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Surnames and Their Origins – November 2023


TODARELLO – This surname is another one that is from a first name – in this case Teodoro meaning gift of God. Variations: TEODORI, TODARI, TODARO, TOTARO.

TEDESCHI – This surname has a complex history. It derives from the Italian word “tedesco which in Italian means German. The explanation for this word itself needs clarification since other Romance languages still retain the Latin “Alemagna” for anything related to Germany or “Germania” as it is said in Italian. We find this name and its related surnames widespread in all of Italy. There are several reasons other than the beleaguered topic of foreign invasions into Italy. The most popular thought is that many southern Italians sought work in German speaking areas. Upon return to their town, they were often nicknamed “Tedesco” which in time evolved into a surname. Variations: TEDESCO, TODESCO, TEDISCO, TUDISCO, TODISCO, TODESCHINI.

TENAGLIA – This surname comes from the Italian word “Tenaglia” meaning pincers. The evolution into a surname is plain and simple. Ancestors of the present-day Tenaglia families worked with pincers.

TESTA – This surname derives from the Italian word” testa” meaning head which in turn came from the Latin testam meaning shell. Its original evolution into a surname is attributed to the nickname of family ancestors believed to have acquired this nickname because they were known for their physical or intellectual characteristics. As a surname it remains so to this day. As a modern-day nickname, its related surname Testoni refers to people who are known for their stubbornness. Variations: TESTI, TESTONI, TESTINI, TESTAI, TESTANI.

TETI – Entomologists differ on the derivation of this surname. Most believe it derives from the ancient word “thetes” meaning laborers. On these family trees there is no doubt it relates to ancestors that were unskilled yet hard working laborers who were the backbone of the work forces.

TIBERI – This surname derives from the first name Tiberio which comes from the Latin “Tiberius” meaning someone born or that lived near the Tiber River. Modern day Tiberi families would be able to trace roots back to ancient Rome. VariatIons: TIBERIO, TIBERIA. 

TIER – Again we have a surname deriving from a first name. This time the name is Gualtiero, derived from two medieval terms meaning a boss or powerful army. Variation: TIERO.

TIRABASSI – Most theories on this surname connect it to a nickname derived from the dialect expression “tira abbasso” meaning draw downward or come down. What entomologists can’t quite determine is a distinct way that this expression became a nickname, let alone a surname. The surname is mostly heard in Le Marche. It is not present at all in the south. Variation: TIRABASSO.

TOLLI – This surname is thought to have two derivations, one from the name of the town of Tollo, and the other derived from the Latin first name Tullus or Tullius. Again because of the surname’s derivation, it is heard most frequently in Lazio. Variations: TOLLIS, TULLIO, TULLO.

TOMARO –  From the Medieval Latin word “tomaria” or” tomaia” meaning the superior part of the shoe, this surname is attributed to ancestors in the cobbler trade. Molise is the region where the surname is most prevalent. Variations: TOMARA, TOMARIA, TOMAIA, TOMARI, TOMAI.

Next month’s surname feature will be holiday themed.

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