Following the holiday surname feature in our last issue, this month we return to our traditional Italian surnames that start with the letter O.
OCCHIONERO – This surname consists of two words: “occhio” meaning eye and “nero” meaning dark or black. Families with this surname most definitely had ancestors with dark eyes who first had this name applied to them as a nickname. The surname is not very common, except in the region of Molise. It is present in 18 other regions, but not at all in the Val d’Aosta. Variations: Occhinero, Occhinegro.
ODONE – This surname is believed to be of German origin from the first name Otto. It is only present in nine regions, mostly in Liguria and Piemonte, which are close to the Austrian border and were at times occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Variations: Oddi, Odda, Oddono.
ODOARDI – This surname is believed to also be of German origin from the German first name Edoardo, meaning guardian of the property. It also has only a small presence in Italy with just 10 regions having it recorded in vital statistics records. Of the regions where it is present, it’s most prevalent in Abruzzo. Variations: Odoardo.
ODORISIO – This surname is another believed to be of German origin from the German first name Odorico, meaning rich, noble. It too has only a small presence in Italy with just 11 regions having it recorded in vital statistic records. Of the regions where it is present, it’s most prevalent in Abruzzo. Variations: Odorico, Oderico.
OLIVIERI – This surname is derived from the first name Oliviero. This surname has a large presence and is recorded in vital statistics offices in all 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Lazio and least recorded in Val d’Aosta.
ORIENTE – This surname is derived from the word “oriente” meaning east or orient. The surname probably indicates the place of origin of the descendent families, which would not be at all unusual, given that the Italian peninsula was invaded and occupied by several armies of the Middle East. It is present in 14 regions with the most families with that surname in Molise.
ORLANDI – This surname is derived from the first name Orlando, which derived from the old name Rolando. This is a very common surname in Italy. It is present in all 20 regions. It has the largest presence in Lombardia.
ORSINI – This surname is derived from the word “orso,” meaning bear and originally used as a nickname to indicate a strong person. Descendent families with this surname had ancestors who were no doubt strong men and hard workers. It is present in all 20 regions, mostly found in Lazio and least in Molise. Variations: Orselli, Orsetti, Orsolini.
ORTONA – This surname derived from the name of the town of Ortona in the region of Abruzzo. Descendent families with this surname had their roots in Abruzzo. As a surname, it has expanded to eight other regions.
OTTOVIANO – This surname is derived from the first name Ottavio, which in turn derived from the noble Roman family name “Octavia.” This name was given by the Romans to the eighth child born. It is a surname found in 19 regions, including Lazio. However, it is most prevalent in Abruzzo and least in Sardegna. It is not present in Val d’Aosta. Variations: Ottaiano.
OVIDIA – This surname is derived from the first name Ovidio, derived from the Latin family name “Ovidius,” from the word Latin word “ovis,” meaning sheep. Ancestors of the present-day families with this surname where no doubt shepherds. It is present in only 11 regions in very, very small numbers. Variations: Ovidio.
Next month we begin to look at Italian surnames that begin with the letter P.
You can research your surname on these two websites: