Tag Archives: Italian

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:

Biondillo

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!

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Mystery Monday: Adoma

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.

Roughly 6 months ago we were back to the beginning of the alphabet, and instead of picking one name beginning with A- to pose as our mystery, we listed them all. Now we’ve rolled around to the beginning of the alphabet again, and comparing what we had then with what we have now…well, if we haven’t made as much progress as we might have liked, we can at least blame it on the fact that there are so many names, and we often create new entries for the Dictionary as quickly as we finalise old ones!

This week’s Mystery is an Italian feminine name from the early 16th C.

Adoma

While many Italian names come in masculine/feminine pairs, which provides a great springboard for research, we don’t know of any masculine Italian name Adomo — it’s tempting to connect the name to Adam, but the vowel shift is otherwise unwitnessed. So we’re looking for clues to help resolve two names: The actual Adoma and the potential Adomo. Have you found either of these before? Do you have any thoughts about their origins? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Uliana

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 especially interesting one because of the complicated context in which it is found. We have recently been working through a collection of notarial documents relating to enslaved pepole in Florence from the early 1360s on. The documents are fascinating for the wealth of data that they provide, not only on Florentine slave-owner names and the names of the people that they enslaved, but also the cultural and geographical origins of the enslaved people, their ages, and their physical characteristics. Reading through the records is sobering business: It is hard not to feel the weight of the unhappy story behind each entry. Most of the enslaved people are women; many of them are still children.

Most of the people were renamed after they were enslaved, with the documents often saying that someone was so named “in lingua latina”; a handful include the name the person was previously known by, “in lingua sua” or “in lingua tartare” (most frequently). Both data sets provide interesting material: On the side of the new names, certain classic Italian names are vastly over represented — probably 1/3 to 1/2 of the enslaved women were renamed some variant of Caterina or Margarita — both popular names in Italy in the 14th century, but not that popular. And on the side of the people’s original names, we get intriguing glimpses as to how names in Greek, Slavic, and Turkic languages were rendered into Latin. (For instance, the two Greek women who were named Cali or Chali in their original language may have in fact been named from καλή, the Greek word for ‘beautiful’).

What’s also interesting is that the pool of “Latin” names that were given to the enslaved people is not merely a subset of the names born by Florentines. Today’s mystery name is one that was the “new” name of two enslaved women (one of Tartar origin, the other not specified), and which we have not otherwise seen in Italy: Uliana.

Is it a form of Juliana/Iuliana? Is it a variant of Eliana (which itself may be a form of Juliana, or possibly a form of Ellen)? Is it distinct from either of these? We don’t know. We hope you might have some thoughts. Please share in the comments!

And if you are interested in knowing more about the enslaved people in 14th-century Florence, we are tweeting the names from the records on the anniversaries, at @FlorentineSlave.

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Mystery Monday: Faburn/Faburr

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 found in late 13th C Italy (Bergamo, to be precise), and we have two instances of it, each in a different spelling.

Faburn

Now, Faburn and Faburr are not within the range of the usual sorts of spelling variants that you see — changing \n\ for \r\ doesn’t follow ordinary linguistic rules. However, in certain medieval scripts, r and n can be easily misread for each other. So there is a good chance that the editor of the edition we used for this source misread one of the instances — or even that the scribe who originally copied the manuscript misread one of the instances! Of the two forms, Faburn strikes us as more likely to be the non-corrupted form, which is why we have selected it as our header spelling. That being said, we don’t actually have any idea what the etymological origin of the name might be, which makes our choice of Faburn over Faburr purely guesswork. We’d love to have some more data one way or the other — other examples of the name, thought about its etymology, etc. Please share in the comments if you have anything to add!

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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:
Demordeus
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!

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Mystery Monday: Ziro

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 diminutive from 14th C Friulia. At least — we’re pretty sure it’s a diminutive, because of the suffix -lin(o). But our hypothesis of the root name is merely that: A hypothesis. We’d love to get confirmation one way or another whether Ziro is the correct root name, and would love to see an example of the radiconym.

Ziro

If you’ve got any other examples of this name, or a different hypothesis for the root name, please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Trauta

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.

Trauta

Today’s name is from 14th C Italy, and we have two instances of it from the same source — once in its full form, and once as a diminutive. We have also just found another instance (not yet transcribed, which is why it doesn’t show up in the draft entry yet) from the deathbook of a Benedictine cloister in Obersteier, Austria, in the 13th C.

Given this new Austrian evidence, the odds are high that the name is Germanic in origin, but beyond that we’re uncertain. Do you have any suggestions? Any other examples of the name, either in its full form or as a diminutive? Please share in the comments!

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