Tag Archives: Italian

Mystery Monday: Robasona

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 so mysterious, we don’t even know (a) whether it is in fact a name or (b) if it is, what gender it is.

Robasona

It shows up in notarial records from Tirol in contexts that make it look like a name — e.g., all the other records follow the same structure, and in the place were “Robasone” and “Robasonam” appear, the other records have identifiable given names — but it is also not entirely clear whether it’s a given name or a byname. If it is a given name, by the grammar one would expect it to be feminine, but that’s the only clear indication — and almost all of the other people mentioned in these records are men. Hence, our uncertainty.

The word ‘robasona/robesone’ shows up in a few places on googlebooks (distinct from our instances), but unfortunately only in ones that don’t give a big enough snippet to be able to read the context, so that doesn’t help.

Do you have any thoughts? Access to different parts of googlebooks than we do? Please share what you find in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Phyofius

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 looks like it should be easily identifiable as a classical name revived in Renaissance Italy — it has the look of a Latinized name of probably Greek origin (so many Phs…). But if that’s true, we haven’t been able to determine what the root Greek name is!

Phyofius

We have two examples, in slightly different spellings, from early 14th C Veneto, and so far we haven’t found any other instance of the name, even considering other variant spellings. There’s nothing like it in the LGPN or Liddell and Scott. So we’re rather clueless.

Do you have any thoughts? Other examples of the name? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Orlofia

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 mystery name is a lovely Italian feminine name:

Orlofia

We have one example of the name from late 13th/early 14th century Bergamo — other than that, we’ve found found in the name in the 18th century. We would love to know if you have any other examples of the names, or any suggestions concerning its etymology. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Inoffio

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 Italian, from late 14th century Genoa.

Inoffio

It sort of feels like a variant of Onofrio (one of the coolest names in the DMNES — it’s of ancient Egyptian origin!), but “sort of feels like” doesn’t explain where the \r\ has gone, or the change in initial vowel. We’d love to have something more reliable than “sort of feels like”! Do you have any info on the origin of this name? Other examples of it? Please share in the comments!

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Looking into history: Unexpected finds

In this post, we take a look at some of the names in the ONS girls’ names data from England and Wales (up through the first 300) which may surprise some people by turning up in the Middle Ages.

First up is no. 41 Imogen — historically thought to have first appeared post-1600 as a typo in a Shakespearean play, the name has an alternative history, dating back to medieval Germany.

Ancient Greek name Penelope (no. 48) came into use in England in the 16th, part of a fad for classical names. (Nickname Penny (no. 198) is more modern, though.)

No. 65 Ada has an old-fashioned feel to it — but did you know it’s roots go back at least to the 9th C in France?

Biblical names Lydia (no. 130), Leah (no. 136), Esther (no. 173), Naomi (no. 178), Rebecca (no. 186), Tabitha (no. 204), Lois (no. 215), and Rachel (no. 323) became popular amongst French, Dutch, and English Protestants in the 16th C, as did virtue names like Faith (no. 135). Interestingly, Hope (no. 139) is a virtue name that we haven’t yet found any pre-1600 examples of, though Esperanza from Latin sperantia ‘hope’ is found in 15th-16h C Spain and Italy (but not in the ONS data!)

Modern name Ottilie (no. 164) is a variant of medieval Odile, popular in France especially in the diminutive form Odelina.

No. 169 Laura first became popular after Petrarch as the poetic name for his love; it spread from Italy to France, Italy, and England over the 14th and 15th centuries.

Here’s a surprising one: Maia (no. 176). The DMNES entry is still in draft form, but we have two Low German examples from the 16th century; variant Maja (no. 192) is not an unreasonable alternative medieval spelling.

French-origin name Amy (no. 189) was popular in England from the 14th C onwards.

No. 196 Alba occurs in Catalan in the early 16th C.

Golden name Aurelia (no. 212) was used in Renaissance Italy. While name no. 361 Sapphire is generally interpreted as a gem name, when the medieval form Sapphira was used in 16th C England, it was more likely in reference to the New Testament character.

Did you know that Alana (no. 216) is a medieval name? It’s the Latin feminine form of Alan, and appears rarely. (Variants that add extra ls or ns or hs, such as Alannah (no. 472), Alanna (no. 650), Allana (no. 1788), Alanah (no. 1887), and Allanah (no. 3178) and compounds like Alana-Rose (no. 2901) and Alana-Rae (no. 5666) are not generally medieval.)

Nickname Effie (no. 236), usually a pet form of Euphemia (no. 4684), shows up in 16th C England (as does the full name itself) — a rare instance of an -ie or -y diminutive ending in medieval England!

Name no. 243, Talia we have examples of in 13th and 16th C Italy; there’s no entry for the name yet, as the etymological origin of the name is uncertain.

Names of classical gods and goddesses became popular in the Renaissance, including Diana (no. 275) found in both England and Italy (Diane (no. 3178) is a French form; Dianna (no. 3985) and Dyana (no. 48684) are modern forms). In general, the Latin names were preferred over the Greek — which means while we don’t have Athena (no. 239), Atene (no. 5666), Athene (no. 5666) (or the compound Athena-Rose, no. 4684) in the DMNES data, we do have Minerva (no. 2187). (The compound Diana-Elena (no. 5666) is also modern.)

Modern-day Melody (no. 312) is found in the Latin form Melodia in England during the fad for fanciful Latinate names in the 13th C. It’s during this period that we also find Amanda (no. 602).

Name no. 213 Remi shows up in medieval France — but as a masculine name, not a feminine name. Similarly, Alexis (no. 323) can be found right across Europe, but only as a man’s name.

The roots of Christmas name Natalie (no. 354) go all the way back to the early Middle Ages — it shows up multiple times in the 9th C, which makes it an incredibly well-witnessed early French feminine name!

We’ll tackle names from no. 400 down in a future post.

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Mystery Monday: Hengelestas

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 mouthful of an early Italian feminine name:
Hengelestas

Context makes it clear that it is a feminine name, but beyond that, we’re stumped. There’s nothing quite like plugging something into a search engine and getting exactly zero hits — on top of not finding it in any of the standard resources! (Unfortunately, the “standard” sources on Italian are patchy in their historic coverage, so the latter is at least unsurprising.)

We’re happy to entertain any suggestions! Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any ideas.

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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.

Dolzera

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!

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