Mystery Monday: Biondillo

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 from early 16th C Italy:


Generally Italian names ending in -ello (or -ellus in the Latin) are diminutive forms — that’s a typical suffix to add. The variant -illo is less common, but still occasionally found. So when hypothesizing about this name, the immediate first step is to strip away the suffix and get a potential root form: Biondo. Often when we do that, it turns out we already have examples of the non-augmented form, so that’s a confirmation of the identification. In this case, we have no examples of Biondo or Biondus (yet), so no help there.

Another easy step to take when trying to pin down the origin of a name is to stick the name (in a variety of spellings) into googlebooks and see what comes up. There are three hits for Biondillus — one which is post-1600, so of no help; one is a reference to a Dauid Biondellus from 1628; and the last occurs on a comment on a blog post from 2010, discussing a fantasy saga!

Has anyone else ever come across this name before? Or even Biondo/Biondus? If you have any thoughts on the origin of this name, please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Biondillo

  1. Jörg Knappen

    Looking up “blond” in Förstemann 1900 leads to a stem BLAND that means “to blend, to mix”, but with a caveat: Förstemann also notes that Blandus and Blandius are Latin names, and he says dazu mischt sich manches keltisches “in addition, there is an admixture of Celtic”. And, while Förstemann lists a Blandila, he relates his/her name to Brandila (a bishop of Mondonedo (Britonia) in Spain.

    So, the origins of the name are pretty mixed up, and offer a lot of possibilities.

  2. Brian M. Scott

    I see no reason to doubt that Biondillus is a variant of Biondellus; this variation can be seen in nr. 28, Minichillus frater and nr. 40, Minichellus filius, the -illus variant appears in nr. 29, Angelillus frater, and the substitution of i for a usual e can be seen in nr. 24, Valintinus rather than Valentinus. The Italian name will then be Biondillo ~ Biondello, corresponding to Latin Blondellus, diminutives of Biondo and Blondus, respectively. (Indeed, we find Flavio Biondo (1392-1463) Latinized as Flavius Blondus.) The Old French counterpart Blondel is found (as Blundel) c.1110 as an idionym in the Winton Domesday, a diminutive of OFr blond, blont ‘fair of hair or complection’.

    I can‘t see Biondo as anything but an original byname ‘blond’. It does appear as a forename, however, in Johannes filius Biondi de Bulciano 1329, and it survives as both a forename and a surname.

    Italian biondo, Spanish blondo, and OFr blont are all presumed to derive from medieval Latin blundus or its (unattested) Vulgar Latin etymon, but the further etymology is uncertain. The hypothesis most often seen is borrowing of a reflex (e.g., a possible Frankish *blund) of a PGmc. *blunðaz, with the caveat that no definite reflexes are attested in the Germanic languages, but other hypotheses have been offered.

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