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Surnames and Their Origins


Italian-American Herald

CONTESTABILE — This surname is derived from the Italian word for constable. In medieval times it was a title of honor similar to minister. Given that few present-day Italian families have this surname probably indicates few people in that past era held that title. It is sparsely found in 15 of Italy’s 20 regions. Of the 15 regions, the most Contestabile families are located in Abruzzo and least in neighboring Marche. Variations: CONNESTABILE, CONTESTABILI.

CONSORTE — This surname derives directly from a Latin word meaning “associate.” It is not among Italy’s most diffused surnames. It is only registered in 11 regional vital statistics bureaus, most heavily in Abruzzo and least in Umbria and Liguria. Variations: CONSORTI.

CONTI — This surname derives from the Italian word “conte,” meaning count, as someone probably working for the count. From the sizable number of present-day Italian families with this surname, many of their ancestors worked or were sub-servant to the counts under the feudal system. This surname is present in all 20 regions, mostly present in Lombardia and least in Basilicata. Variations: CONTE, CONTIELLO.

CORDISCO — This uncommon Italian surname derives from the Spanish word cordero, meaning lamb. It is found in 16 regions, predominantly in areas once occupied by Spain. The surname was passed down to present-day families who had ancestors who possibly were connected to raising sheep. Variations: CORDESCO.

CORNACCHIA — This surname is derived from the Italian word cornacchia meaning “crow.” It is thought to possibly be from a nickname for a person with an unpleasant voice. It is found in the vital statistic records of 19 regions. It is most prevalent in Puglia and least in Calabria and Molise. Val D’Aosta is the lone county with no record of this surname. Variations: CORNACCHIONE, CORNACCHIONI.

CORNELI — This surname derives from the first name Cornelio. It is not a common surname, with a presence in only 11 regions; all but one in central and northern Italy. Variations: CORNELIA, CORNELIO.

CORRADINO — This surname derives from a first name, Corrado. It is present in 19 regions, albeit sparsely. The only region that shows no record of present-day families with that surname is Umbria. Variations: CORRA’, CORRADEACHI, CORRADO, CORRADONE.

CORSETTI — This surname has possible origins in the former Italian region of Corsica. Corso, which gives way to the variations of this surname, means Corsican in Italian. Though several centuries have passed since Corsica was ceded to France, Corsican connections to Italy remain present. So, it’s likely that present- day families with this surname probably have Corsican in their DNA. In any event, it is a surname present, though, sparsely, in 19 regions. The exception is the Val D’Aosta. Variations: CORSINI, CORSO, CORSELLINI, CORSELLO.

CORVETTO — This surname derives from the Italian word “corvo,” meaning raven. It is present in only seven regions and it was probably a nickname given to ancestors of modern-day Italians who carry this surname. What is strange about the regions where the surname is present is that it is found in several extreme southern regions and in extreme northern regions, but nowhere in central Italy. Variations: CORVI.

Next month we wrap up with Italian surnames ending in the letter C. 

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