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Surnames and Their Origins

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We continue our monthly column with more surnames that begin with the letter A.

APOLLONI: This surname derives from the first name Apollonio. It appears in vital records in 17 regions. Excluded are Molise, the Aosta Valley and Calabria. It is most commonly found in Veneto. Derivatives: Apollonio, Appollonio, Appolloni.

APUGLIESE: The surname has obvious roots deriving from the name of the Puglia region; it means “inhabitant of Puglia.” In this form, vital records for this surname appear only in that region.

AQUILA: This surname is said to have originated in Aquila, the capital city of Abruzzo, or from a nickname connected to the eagle, as aquila means “eagle” in Italian. Judging that the majority of Italians with this surname are in Sicily, we would point to the latter theory. There are families with the surname in Abruzzo, but not nearly as many as in Sicily. Derivative: Aquili.

ARCANGELO: From the first name Arcangelo, it derives from the Greek word, archangelos, meaning “leader of angels.” It is not among the common surnames in Italy, but it is still sparsely scattered in 19 regions. The only region that does not have a record of this surname in its vital statistics is the Aosta Valley. Derivatives: Arcangela, Arcangiolo.

ARCARO: This surname derives from arcaro, the job of a craftsman who made wooden containers, referred to as arca, for bread or valuables. Vital records indicate that this surname is registered in 17 regions, though not in great numbers. Veneto has the most families with this surname. No such surname appears in Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, or Umbria. Derivatives: Arcaini, Arcari, Arcarini.

ARCELLI: As might be construed by the name, derivation is thought to be from the French archier and its connection to the craft of bow-making. It is found in only half of Italy’s regions, mostly those in the north. Derivatives: Arcellaio, Arcellai, Arcellone, Arcelloni.

ARCIERI: There are different possible derivations of this surname, not mutually exclusive origins, which may be valid in different places. One possible etymology is from arcaro, mentioned above as a manufacturer of arks, or pieces of furniture made of wooden crates, for various uses. Another etymology derives the surname from the officer who, in medieval times, was charged with guarding the public treasure that was usually kept in an ark. Yet another theory traces from the French archier, that is to say “archer.” The surname is disseminated all over Italy, appearing in Italian phone books with more than 540 listings.

ARDEMAGNI: This surname is probably derived from the German name Ardemanno, consisting of arde (“hard” or “strong”) and mann (“man”). Because of its German derivation, it is found mostly in the north. Derivatives: Ardemani, Ardemanni.

ARDIGO`: This surname is probably derived from the German name Ardigo, which is derived from the German arde, meaning “hard” or “strong.” It’s only found in nine regions, all but one being in the north. The one in the south is Sicily.

ARMENTO: This surname is possibly connected to sheep-raising, since armento means “flock” or “herd” in Italian. It is found in 15 regions, most prevalently in Basilicata and the surrounding regions. Derivative: Armenti.

Greg Mathias
Author: Greg Mathias

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