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Italian Baby Names: Popularity and trends

Italian baby names

By Romina Angeleri

Nora Ephron was once asked to write her autobiography in six words. Here it is: “Secret to life, marry an Italian.” Whether or not you follow her advice, you don’t need to go all that way in order to give an Italian name to your baby!

Italian names often have layered meanings and a lot of romance, which makes them a great choice for naming your baby. At the same time – and for much the same reasons – searching for a good Italian name can be tricky. Names that sound perfectly fine to American ears may not be real options in Italy, if, for example, they might sound old-fashioned or carry strong regional connotations. Take Teodora: here’s a great-sounding, but also ancient-sounding name that virtually no one in Italy has chosen for decades. Or Calogero – a once-popular name that has been out of fashion for quite a while.

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international names

Names travel among cultures further and faster now than ever before.

In the US, rising stars include the Irish Maeve and Declan, the Spanish Mateo and the Arabic Imani.

The British like such French names as Sophie and Chloe, while in France there’s a craze for British names such as Emma and Tom.  And then there are those names used throughout Europe that are gaining some attention in the US: Cosima, Leonie, Roman.

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posted by: waltzingmorethanmatilda View all posts by this author
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By Anna Otto, Waltzing More Than Matilda

I recently released an e-book called International Baby Names for Australian Parents, to help Australian parents find names that are uncommon, but not strange. My theory was that was a name that had never ranked here, yet was on the charts in other countries, would fit the bill of being seen as both “unusual” and “normal”.

Here are some names from the book that have never ranked in English-speaking countries, but are in the Top 100 elsewhere in the world.

girls

Anouk (Top 100 in the Netherlands)

Hip and quirky while still having substance. As a short form of Anna, provides an alternative to that and related names.

Ginevra (Top 100 in Italy)

Best known from spunky redhead GinevraGinny” Weasley in the Harry Potter books. Romantic and with tons of nickname options, this could also honour a Jennifer, as it’s the Italian form of Guinevere.

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Baby Naming Traditions Around the Globe

namingtradit

By Abigail Cukier

As we all know, choosing a name for your baby can be a daunting task. Many factors come into play – trends, tastes, opinions from relatives. But parents are also often guided by religious or cultural traditions. Here are some naming customs from around the world.

Judaism

Personally, when naming my own children, we had to be careful not to choose anything too similar to that of a loved one, because for Ashkenazi Jews this goes against tradition. We usually name a baby after a deceased relative. Some will use the full name, while others use just the first letter. For example, I am named after my grandfather, Arthur.

This is to honour loved ones who have died but also to a superstition. The old belief was that there might be a mix-up and the angel of death might take the baby instead of the older relative.

On the other hand, among Sephardic Jews, who originated in Spain or Portugal, it is actually an honour to name a child after a parent or living relative.

Babies usually receive an English and a Hebrew name. Some parents translate the child’s secular name while others choose a separate Hebrew name.

A boy is named on the eighth day after the birth during the bris (ritual circumcision). Loved ones have the honour of carrying the baby and often the grandfather holds him during the ceremony.  A girl is named in the synagogue, where the father reads from the Torah (Bible) and the baby and mom are blessed.

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italboy

Until recently, Italian names–particularly for boys– have rarely ventured outside their own neighborhoods, but lately we’ve seen several popping up in the celebrisphere—though usually, if not always, used by celebs with Italian roots.  There have been at least four Mateo/Matteos, two Roccos, two Romeos, Annabeth Gish’s Enzo, Ricky Martin’s Valentino, and Jill Hennessey’s Marco Gianni.

These are names that have all been pretty firmly assimilated, but there are loads more undiscovered rhythmic and romantic nomi belli that could be considered—a few of which have already gained entrance via their female forms.  Here are the Nameberry Picks of 15 of the best underused Italian boys’ names.

Alessioif Alessandro feels a bit too bulky, how about this more compact, equally handsome short form?

Amatoit means beloved, darling one—as loving and heartfelt as the beginning-to-be-used Valentino

Bello –as handsome as Bella is beautiful, and rarely heard outside the Italian community.

BrandoYes, people will thinking this is in honor of great screen actor Marlon (who wasn’t Italian), but it is actually a streamlined form of Brandano

Flaviopronounced FLAH-vee-o, from an old Roman family name meaning fair, golden—a flavorful name that would be perfect for a blond bambino

Gianluca—the Italians are great name smooshers: other appealing combos include Giancarlo, Gianfranco, Gianpaolo, Pierluigi

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