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Surnames and Their Origins – July 2020


In this issue we begin with Italian surnames starting with the letter “O.”

            OCCHIONERO – This surname consists of two Italian words: “occhio,” meaning eye and “nero,” meaning dark eye color.  It is not a very common surname, but does appear present in 17 of Italy’s 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Molise. It is not present in Val D’Aosta, Calabria, or Sicily. Variations: OCCHINERO, OCCHINEGRO.

            ODDI – This surname derives from the first name Oddo, Otto and Odo, all of German origin. It is present in 18 regions mostly registered in Lazio, It is not present in Molise and Calabria. Variations: ODDA, ODDONO, ODONE.

            ODOARDI – This surname derives from the German first name Edoardo, meaning guardian of the property. The ancestors of the present day Odiardi families were probably involved in the business of private security. It is not very prevalent, having a presence only in 10 regions. It is most registered in Abruzzo and least in Tuscany. Variations: ODOARDO.

            ODORISIO – This surname is also from a first name Odorico of German origin, meaning rich, noble. Like Odiardi, this name is not very prevalent. The ancestors of the present-day Odorisio families were probably wealthy and possibly of nobility. The surname is not very prevalent either. It is present in only 11 regions. It is most prevalent in Abruzzo. Variations: ODORICO, ODERICO.

            OLIVIERI – This surname derives from the first name Oliviero. There is no question that this surname is connected to ancestors in the olive business. It is very common and present in all 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Lazio and least found in Val D’Aosta.

            ORIENTE – This surname derives from the word “oriente,” meaning east, orient. It probably indicates the place of origin of the present-day families with this surname. It would seem that there are not too many families whose origins are from the east or orient since even though it is present in 14 regions, it is sparsely found in those regions. Molise is where the largest number of families with this surname reside.

            ORLANDI – This surname is derived from the first name Orlando, which is in turn is derived from the old name Rolando, made famous by Italy’s commedia dellarte character Orlando Furioso. This is a very popular Italian surname. It is registered with vital statistics in all 20 regions. It is most common in Lombardia and least present in Molise and Val d’Aosta.

            ORTONA – This surname derives from the name of the town of Ortona in Abruzzo. It indicated someone coming from there and handed down to modern families who may no longer be residing there, but had ancestors who did. In any event it is not a very common surname having a small presence in only nine of Italy’s regions.

            Next month we continue to look at Italian surnames that begin with the letter “O” and start the surnames that begin with the letter “N.”

You can research your surname on these two websites:

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