Posted by: Italian Surname Database in , , , ,

Last name origin & meaning:
Italian (Sicily): nickname for a teetotaler, Sicilian murabbitu, from Arabic murābịt ‘hermit’, ‘ascetic’.

According to the Genealogy Family Education website, this surname is actually a derivative of the Arabic surname of Murabit meaning hermit. Facebook has a whole group devoted to this surname - Morabito.. more tha a name, a way of life.  with over 170 members and open content.

While searching the Ellis Island Website using my favourite search engine One Step Pages by Stephen Morse
and using various spellings, I discovered the surname is most common in parts of Sicily and Reggio Calabria.

According to the RES website, the surname appears in 79 out of 380 towns in Calabria.

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Pagine Bianche  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in

A great resource for looking up Italian surnames and locating people in Italy is to use the on line Pagine Bianche (White Pages).  This telephone directory also links to the Pagine Gialle or the Yellow Pages so you can locate businesses.

There are a few ways to use the site. The first is to click on ricerca, then plug in the surname and or address in chi/cosa and the comune(town, city or province) name in dove if known. Another way to use the site is to click on ricercha speciale and use it to do a reverse look up if you know a phone number but don't know who it's registered too.

No matter how you choose to use the site it's definitely worth checking out.

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What to name a child? In Italy, a court can decide  

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This article, written in Dec 2007 By Philip Pullella caught my attention this morning and I wanted to share it.

(Reuters) - An Italian court has ruled that a couple could not name their son "Friday" and ordered that he instead be called Gregory after the saint whose feast day he was born on.
"I think it is ridiculous they even opened a case about it," the family's lawyer, Paola Rossi, told Reuters by telephone from the northern city of Genoa on Tuesday.
Friday/Gregory Germano was born in Genoa 15 months ago. The parents registered him as Friday in the city hall and a priest even baptised him as Friday -- unusual in Italy since many priests insist that first names be of Christian origin.
"We named him Friday because we like the sound of the name. Even if it would have been a girl, we would have named her Friday," the boy's mother, Mara Germano, told Reuters.
When the boy was about five months old, a city hall clerk brought the odd name to the attention of a tribunal, which informed the couple of an administrative norm which bars parents from giving "ridiculous or shameful" first names to children.
The tribunal said it was protecting the child from being the butt of jokes and added that it believed the name would hinder him from developing "serene interpersonal relationships".
The Germano family appealed but lost their case this month and the story was carried on the front page of a national newspaper on Tuesday.
When ordered to change the name, the parents refused and the court ruled the boy would be legally registered as Gregory because he was born on that saint's feast day.
"I really doubt this would have happened to the child of parents who are rich and famous," the boy's mother told Reuters, recalling that some famous Italians had given their children unorthodox names such as "Ocean" or "Chanel".
The appeals court ruled against Friday because it recalled the servile savage in Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe and because superstitious Italians consider Friday an unlucky day.
"I am livid about this," the boy's mother said. "A court should not waste its time with things like this when there is so much more to worry about."
"My son was born Friday, baptised Friday, will call himself Friday, we will call him Friday but when he gets older he will have to sign his name Gregory," she said.

You can view the original article here.

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Our Italian Surnames - By Joseph Guerin Fucilla  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database

Our Italian Surnames - By Joseph Guerin Fucilla is available on Google Books.  The section from which I linked it to entitled The Evolution of Italian Surnames concentrates primarily on Northern Italian Surnames.  There are over 7500 surnames and sources listed throughout the 299 page book which makes it an interesting and most comprehensive read.

Book Review

You can read the Google book review available for more information.

The book was originally written in the late 1940's and is available on as well as Chapters.Indigo

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Behind the Name  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in , , , ,

Behind the Name is a wonderful site which lists several hundred surnames and their meanings.  It also may tell your where the surname is derived from. 
The beauty of this site is that it not only concentrates on Italian surnames but on surnames from several different parts of the world such as Germany, Spain, Greece and Ireland plus much more.  If you don't find your surname in one area I would encourage you spend the time exploring other areas of the site to see if your surname originated elsewhere.  You may also want to check out the section entitled The Most Common Surnames  where it lists the top 100 surnames for many countries.  Again, don't forget to use variation in spelling.

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Problems with Comment Feature  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in

I had some problems receiving comments on the weekend since the feature was not quite working. This was caused by a recent update in the template.

I was able to locate where the missing code in the css sheet should have been and added it so it should be corrected now. I also managed to correct a few other issues and hopefully the template is now working as it was meant to work.

I appreciate those who took the time to email me and let me know about the problem.  Thanks again.

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Surname Saturday - Why Italian Surnames Changed  

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Italian surnames have changed so much in the past century.  Almost everyone I meet has a story about how their surname was changed at Ellis Island upon their ancestor's entry in to the US.  The truth of the matter is that names were not usually changed at Ellis.  Manifest lists were complied and written in the country from which the immigrant came and by someone who normally was familiar with the language of that same traveler.  So how did the names change then?
Names changed for several reason. One such reason was that the immigrant was illiterate and so they could not spell their last name. This resulted in the dropping of some double letters in surnames or in silent letters. Before 1909, passports were not usually used or needed so it was not uncommon for minor spelling errors to occur.  You may wonder about birth certificates as well but it was not normal custom for Italians to carry a copy of their birth certificates on them. In fact, rarely did any see their actual birth acts unless they were getting married in Italy and their parents were deceased and in which case they were required to show a copy of their births upon registering to get married.  Of course, many immigrants left Italy as young, single men and so had no reason to ever really see their birth records.  Not only could this cause issues with the correct spelling of a surname, but also with birth dates as often the actual day a child was born and the day a child was registered were different.
This was not the only reason a surname might change. Some changed their surnames to something that was more Anglicized to help secure work and discourage discrimination.   The process was a simple one as no legal documents were necessary.  Giovanni Rossi might become John Ross and Vincenzo Valentino might be known as James Valentine.  This name change usually only affected the person in the US.  He would still be known by his birth name on legal documents or upon traveling.
I will write more on why names changed or how they changed in upcoming posts. Meanwhile, I would be interested in hearing how your name has changed or why it changed.

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