Mystery Monday: Lempold

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.


Today we’re going to play “How might the Germanic prototheme propogate down into 14th century Italian?” The masculine name we’ve got from Friulia in 1326 is clearly of Germanic origin — the deuterotheme is Old High German bald ‘bold’ — but the prototheme is clearly something that has been corrupted over time. Could it be Old High German lant, Old Saxon land ‘land’, making this a variant of Landbald? It could be, but we’d like to see more evidence for lan(d/t) becoming lem, in Italian contexts or otherwise, before we draw such a conclusion. Do you have any such evidence? Any other examples where lem is clearly a variant of lan(d/t)? Or an alternative hypothesis for its origins? Please share in the comments!



Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Lempold

  1. Jörg Knappen

    It could be some kind of folk etymology involved: The frequent German name Leopold (originally originating from liut and bold) can be reinterpreted as having a first element leo(n) “lion”. I can perfectly imagine Leonpold becoming Lempold in an Italian context.

  2. Brian M. Scott

    Apparently the same man is referred to as Leopoldus abbas monasterii Obremburgensis 1332 in Documenta historiae Forojuliensis saeculi XIII. et XIV. ab anno 1300. AD 1333. in Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, vol. 41, Vienna, 1869, p. 464, and as Lupoldus Abbas Monasterii Obremburgensis 1335 in the document shown on p. 374 and transcribed on p. 375 of Tone Ravnikar, Jonatan Vinkler, Andrej Hozjan, Anton Ožinger, V primežu medplemiških prerivanj.

    I found other similar instances. In Gio. Nicolo Doblioni, Compendio historico vniuersale di tutte le cose notabili gia successe nel mondo, dal principio della sua creatione fin’hora, Venice, 1622, the index Tavola copiosissima di tvtte le cose notabili has an entry Lempoldo di Marchese creato Duca d’Austria referred to p. 330, but on that page we find Leupoldo di Marchese creando col titolo di Duca. Moreover, the index is alphabetical, but the Lempoldo entry is between Leui and Libera.

    Annales monasterii de Burton, Henry Richards Luard, ed., 1864, p. 189, mentions Limpoldus dux Austriæ, who from context must be Leopold V, Duke of Austria.

    Archeografo Triestino, raccolta di memorie, notizie e documenti, particolarmente per servire alla storia della regione Giulia, p. 138, has Alberto et Lempoldo Ducibus Austrie, I think referring to Albert III the Pigtail and Leopold III the Just.

    (Note that the monastery of which Leopold ~ Lupold ~ Lempold was abbot was in what is now Gornji Grad, Slovenia; the German name is Oberburg, and in older terms the place is in Lower Styria.)

    It seems quite possible that the Lem- forms are the result of scribal error for Leo-, L(e)u-.

    The name Leupolt was quite popular in Austria, and I suspect that it’s what we’re dealing with here. Here, though, the prototheme is probably not the ‘lion’ one: according to Brechenmacher it’s from Leutpolt, i.e., Liutbald, with the ‘people’ prototheme.

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