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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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MATT-DAMON-WIFE-PREGNANT

Nearly two years ago we ran a nameberry contest asking you to guess the name of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner‘s second child; now the challenge is to come up with the name of Affleck pal Matt Damon and wife Luciana‘s fourth daughter, due to be born any minute.

Matt and Luciana have two daughters together, Isabella, age 4, and Gia Zavala, 2, in addition to Luciana‘s daughter from a previous marriage, Alexia.  You tell us: What’s the new Matt Damon baby name?

Will the new baby’s name harmonize with her big sisters’ stylish Latinate names, or strike out in a new direction? Will the new baby have a surname as a middle name, as do Gia (Zavala is a common Spanish last name) and Matt himself (his is Paige), or, like Isabella, no middle name at all?

To everyone who guessed early and chose a boy’s name, before I heard the news that the baby is definitely a girl, you get another shot: I can tell who you are.

The person who guesses the new Matt Damon baby name correctly wins a full signed set of our baby name books, including The Baby Name Bible, Cool Names, Beyond Ava & Aiden and Cool Irish Names. If no one guesses the name exactly, we’ll choose the winner by whoever comes closest, in the opinion of the judges aka Pam and Linda.

A bit about the names of the Damons’ children: All three are rising in popularity and have a Latin feel, undoubtedly thanks to mom Luciana‘s Argentinean roots. Gia is a short form of such Italian names as Gianna, Giovanna, and Giada, first known in this country via 60s movie star Gia Scala, born Giovanna. Most recently, it’s gained notoriety as the oldest stage-bound daughter of Real New Jersey Housewife Teresa Giudice.

Isabella, the Spanish and Italian version of Elizabeth, is both classic and mega-trendy – it’s now the most popular name in the U.S. Alexia, a more modern offshoot of Alexandra/Alexandria, has also been steadily rising along with other members of the Alex family.

Those characteristics offer some good clues to what the couple’s fourth baby might be named. Or do they?

Post your entries here; one to a customer. Since everyone started with first names only, let’s keep going that way. Check and make sure someone hasn’t already entered your guess, as the first one to claim a name will win the prize. Different spellings counted separately, so if someone has already guessed Sofia, you can guess Sophia. (But sorry, those two are already taken.)

Adding a middle name does not mean you get to reclaim a name — so if Sophia has already been guessed, you can’t guess Sophia Rose. You also can’t guess two names — i.e. “Sophia or Sofia” — or both guesses will be disqualified, though if you’ve made any of those mistakes before I wrote this — 7:19 a.m. EST on October 12 — you get to choose ONE of your “or” names or reguess if you’ve guessed a double name already guessed by someone else.  The computer logs the time you post, so who gets what first is free from human error.

Phew! I better stop now or the rules will be longer than the entries. Everyone clear?

Entries accepted until the minute before the baby’s name is announced.

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italfilm2

Last week we perused the character names in classic French New Wave films and today, as promised, we do the same for the Italian cinema produced (mostly) in Rome’s Cinecittà, from the gritty neorealist works of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini to the fantasies of Fellini, the surreal films of Antonioni, et alia.

Italian names, almost universally, end in vowels, so here’s an opportunity to explore a fresh source of feminissima girls’ names ending in ‘a,’ ranging from the simple Lia to the elaborate Elisabetta, and boys’ names with the popular ‘o’ ending—some of which will be more familiar than others.

This time—as prompted by one of you berries– I’m including the  names of the films the characters appear in.  The movie titles are in Italian or English (sometimes both), depending on how they are best known in the US.

  • Adelinade Sica, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • Adreina –Antonioni, The Cry/Il grido
  • AmaliaRossellini, Dov’é la libertà?
  • Annarella – de Sica, Bread, Love and Dreams
  • BrunaBertolucci, La commare secca; Pasolini, La Mamma Roma
  • Cabiria—Fellini, Nights of Cabiria
  • CleliaBertolucci, Before the Revolution; Antonioni, The Girlfriends/Le amiche; Rossellini, Vanina Vanini
  • Clementinade Sica, The Voyage/ Il Viaggio
  • DoroteaFellini, And the Ship Sails On
  • ElisabettaFellini, Juliet of the Spirits
  • ElviaAntonioni, The Cry/ Il grido
  • FilumenaDe Sica, Marriage, Italian Style
  • GiudittaZeffirelli, Sparrow
  • GiulianaAntonioni, Red Desert
  • LaurettaRossellini, Open City

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