Mystery Monday: Dolzera

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 a lovely late 13th/early 14th C Italian feminine name.


The name shows up a couple of times in our source — Dolzera de Cremona, Dolzera de Pigenzollis, Dolzera uxor domini Perini, domina Dolzera uxor Otteboni ser Casari — but we haven’t found the name in any other context. One possibility is that it is related to Dulce, as variations of that name occur with both u and o, and the swap of c and z is not uncommon at all in Latinate Italian names. This would leave unexplained the -(e)ra ending, though, and this isn’t straigtforwardly a simple diminutive suffix.

Have you come across this name before? Have any thoughts what its origin might be? Please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

3 responses to “Mystery Monday: Dolzera

  1. Jörg Knappen

    Here’s my try:

    I assume that the form behind the name is Dultgera with loss of the t and the typical North Italian substitution soft g -> z. Dultgera is than explained as a dithematic Germanic name with the stems THULD “patience” (related to modern High German Gedult and GER “Javelin, spear”. The stem THULD is attested in Förstemann 1900, but rare.

  2. Diego

    Note “Dolcera uxor domini Alg(isii) Pregiberti” in the same source (p. 34); and Dulcera in a 1185 document here:

    This might be a regular development from L dulciarius, used as an occupational surname, but I don’t know of any instance as a given name.

    • Brian M. Scott

      From Emanuele Curzel, Sonia Gentilini, Gian Maria Varanini, Le pergamene dell’Archivio della Prepositura di Trento (1154-1297), Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004 (Annali dell’Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento. Fonti, 2), we also have Dolcera uxor Capitis Petini 1279 (p. 364), who appears again on p. 369.

      Introduzione is apparently the introduction to La matricola femminile della Misericordia de Bergamo (1265-1339). Beginning on p. LVI it has a discussion of the feminine names. This begins by noting that many of the names are of an auspicious nature in respect of health, prosperity, or divine favor (Confortata, Cresimbene, Detesalva, Divicia, Ottabona, Pax, Paxia or Pasina, Richadona and Ricafirma, Semperbona, Tutabona, Ventura) or emphasize aspects of feminine beauty (Admirabilis, Bella, Bellebona, Bellacara, Bellacossa, Belladona, Bellafans, Bellavita, Dolçera, Mirabel, Tutabella and other variants), often also referring to flowers and precious stones (Belleflos, Diamantha, Flora, Flurina). I think that this leaves no doubt that the name is related to Italian dolce ‘sweet; gentle, mild’.

      In this connection I note Old French dolçor ‘softness; gentleness’ (whence French douceur) and Spanish dulzura ‘sweetness; meekness, gentleness’, though it’s not clear to me that the -era suffix of the Italian name can have the same source (Latin -ūra) as the French and Spanish suffix.

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