OUR ITALIAN SURNAMES

di Joseph Guerin Fucilla (1897-1981)

The affixed adjective is found rather frequently in compounds. It is used to describe a physical attribute of a person by a certain given name: Giangrande, Big John; Giangrasso, Fat John; Giarusso, Iarussi, Red John; Ciccotosto, Stubborn Frank. It likewise appears in quite a number of place names, for example, Acquafredda, cold water; Fiumefreddo, cold stream; Campolongo, long field; Collalto, Montalto, high hill; Fontanabuona, good spring; Terranova, new land; Torregrossa, big tower; Vallunga, long vale. Some other instances are Caparotta, broken head; Capracotta, roast goat; Sanguedolce, sweet, gentle, blood; Mentesano, sound mind; Spadavecchia, old sword and Paternostro, Patenostro, our father, which may be of religious derivation, but it also connected with pratum, meadow, as a Sicilian place name.

  • J. G. Fucilla, Our Italian Surnames, Chandler's, Evanston 1949, pp. 63-64.

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