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Surnames and Their Origins


CETRULLO — The word itself is the dialect term deriving from the Italian citriolo, which means cucumber. No particular explanation as to why, but the word cetrullo evolved into a nickname meaning “simple-minded person,” and as often is the case over the years nicknames evolved into surnames. Variations: CETRULLA, CETRULLI.

CHERUBINO — This surname derives from the first name, Cherubino. Cherubino is the Italian for cherub. As a first name today, it is uncommon, and even as a surname it is uncommon. It is found in 14 of Italy’s 20 regions, but in very scarce numbers. Most families with this surname are in Calabria. Variations: CHERUBINA, CHERUBINI.

CHIACCHIARI — This surname derives From the Italian chiacchiere, which translates to chatting or gossiping. It most likely started out as a nickname, which often is the case with a large majority of modern-day Italian surnames. It’s also a well-known fact that chatting and gossiping are popular pastimes in small Italian villages and towns. Given this one would think that there were many individuals that would have inherited this surname. Strangely, though, it appears in the records of vital statistics in only four regions. It is most recorded in Molise. The remaining three regions are Abruzzo, Lazio and Lombardia. Variations: CHIACCHIARETTE.

CHIAVAROLI — This surname derives from the Italian chiave, key. An ancestor of modern-day families with this surname was probably a key maker. This surname is found in 11 regions, mostly Abruzzo.

CHIMENTI — This surname derives from the first name Clemente which derives from the Latin word clemens, meaning clement or indulgent. It is a fairly common surname found in 18 regions. It is mostly present in Tuscany and least in Trentino Alto-Adige. It does not appear in vital statistic records in The Aosta Valley and Molise. Variations: CHIMIENTI, CHIUMENTI.

CHIODELLI — From the Italian word chiodo, meaning nail, the surname is accredited to ancestors connected to a job such as carpenter or blacksmith. It is derived from a nickname referring to excessive thinness. As a present day surname it is found in eight regions, mostly present in Lombardia and least in Abruzzo. Variations: CHIODI, CHIODINI, CHIODO, CHIODONI.

CHIORRI — This surname derives from the Italianized first name Melchiorre, deriving from the Hebrew name Melkior, composed by the two Hebrew words melek meaning king and or meaning light. In this form, it is rarely found in Italy’s vital statistic records. More commonly found now as the surname Melchiorre, while Melchiorre as a first name is out of vogue. Variations: CHIORRINI.

CIANA — This surname derives from the first name Luciano. As a first name Luciano is fairly common first name. In its abbreviated form as a surname, it is not as common. The surname Ciana is found in records of vital statistics in only seven regions. It is most present in Piemonte and least in The Aosta Valley and Veneto.

CIARAMELLA — This surname derives from the musical instrument meaning bagpipes. Bagpipes in Italy are mostly associated with the Christmas season when shepherds come down from the mountains and parade through the towns and cities playing the numerous traditional Christmas carols, known as pastorali. The present-day Ciaramella families no doubt had shepherd ancestors who started this tradition. As a present-day surname it is found in 15 regions, with Campania and Sicily as the regions where it is most common, and the Aosta Valley and Sardinia where it is least found.

Next month will continue researching surnames ending in “C.”

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