Mystery Monday: Demordeus

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’s name is an Italian masculine name from a 15th C Latin record:
The fascinating thing about this name is that there is a straightforward analysis of the name as Latin demor + deus, which would be in keeping with other Italian phrase names involving deus ‘God’, such as Amadeus, Homoedeus, and Salvodeus. But what is demor? It’s 1st person singular, present indicative passive of demo “cut away, remove, withdraw, strip off, subtract, take away from”. That would make the name meaning “I am removed from God” — which is a very peculiar thing to name a child!

So we’re putting this name out there: What do others think? Have you an alternative reading of the name? Or independent evidence that would support such a negative etymology? Please share in the comments!



Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

4 responses to “Mystery Monday: Demordeus

  1. Diego

    There is a “Demerode Campionus” or “de Campionibus” in the same place (Savona, Liguria) in the year 1456 here:“demerode”“demerode”

    May well be the same person. Then there is “Demerode / Demerodele / Demelode / Demorde Campionus” from around 1424 here:

    I’d say “Demordeus” is a Latinization of this name, whatever its original form (Ligurian? I can’t help there), and the similarity with -deus names is accidental.

  2. Chris Forzetting

    Could such a name be the result of bastardy?

  3. Brian M. Scott

    For what it’s worth, a snippet from Federico Marzinot, Ceramica e ceramisti in Liguria quotes as follows from a document of 1608: Baptino Salamone, quondam Bapte alias Demordei figulo et cive Saone [italics added].

    I did notice that the entry for Salvodeus seems a bit problematic. The citations are for Salvoldei and Salvoldeus, and the name also appears twice in that source as Salvoldey (gen.); in each case the apparent first element is Salvol-, with final l, not Salvo-. There are also examples of Salvoldeo from Gandellino. That second l seems rather difficult to account for if the element is based on Latin salvus. To complicate matters, there are also clear instances of both Salvodeus and Salvoldo ~ Salvoldus, and I found indications that the latter sometimes interchanges with Savoldo. (There is also a Savaldus Beffe 1311 in Brescia.) Finally, I found a Savoldeus 1304 in Bergamo. It’s not clear how many distinct origins are represented by these names, especially since they seen to occur in the same general area.

    All of these names save those in -deus ~ -dei ~ -deo seem to admit the possibility of a Germanic origin, and I can’t help wondering whether these odd ones out are also derived from Germanic names, possibly by analogy with genuine Romance compounds.

  4. Anon

    For what it’s worth, it reminds me of “de mortuis.”

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