Ahh, Italy… the land of rich history, great food, and surnames that roll off the tongue. Italian last names have infiltrated our globe, screens, and brains throughout their long existence. With Latin roots, each surname tells a story about a family’s geographical, occupational, or characteristic origin.
Whether it’s belonging to you, your neighbor, or your Hollywood favorite, you’ve heard a charming Italian last name and wondered about its meaning at some point. We’re here to help! We’ve compiled a list of popular Italian last names and their unique meanings. If you’re here looking for some answers, you should know you’re in good company.
Italian names usually stem from four groups. They can be patronymics, which means they come from an ancestor’s first name. This is why there are names like d’Alberto or d’Angelo, which sound a little like first names but are typically surnames. Then there are last names that come from geographical areas or where a family is from like Di Genova or Napolitano. Other family names are usually descriptives or nicknames like Franco, or Betto or describe an occupation like Carpenteri, which means carpenter. Italian surnames can also be creative and originate from the names of insects or birds.
Like most of the architecture and towns in Italy, they can also tell a story. Some last names recognize certain histories or describe important events or narratives that mean a lot to the family. According to the latest search data available, Italian last names and their meanings are searched for nearly, 40,500 times per month.
For those who want to feel a little extra Italiano, we’ve also included their pronunciations. The italics represent the syllable where you should put the most stress. Viva l’Italia!
If you’re interested in the last names and meanings of other countries, check out our package on last names from around the world. See how many you recognize: French, Russian, Mexican, Brazilian, Portuguese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Jewish, British, and Korean last names, among others.
Common Italian Last Names
Meaning: A Moor or a person of dark complexion.
Meaning: Messenger or angel.
Pronunciation: Buh-roo-nee (rolled R)
Meaning: The color brown or a dark-haired person.
Meaning: Town square.
Meaning: Large-headed or strong-headed.
8. De Rossi
Pronunciation: Deh-ross-ee (rolled R)
Meaning: A person resembling an ox.
Meaning: A Florentine or a person from the city of Florence.
Pronunciation: Ree-chee (rolled R)
Meaning: Serf or slave.
Meaning: Judge or justice.
Meaning: A person from Taranto, a town in Southern Italy.
Pronunciation: Ar-mah-nee (rolled R)
Meaning: Man of force.
Pronunciation: Guh-reck-oh (rolled R)
Meaning: Greek or a person from Greece.
Pronunciation: Fer-ah-ro/Fer-ah-ri (both Rs are rolled)
22. Di Maggio
Meaning: The eldest son.
Meaning: Large-headed or arrogant.
Meaning: A maker of sacks and bags.
Meaning: Silver or grey-haired.
Meaning: Roman or a person from the city of Rome.
30. De Niro
Meaning: Of black or dark hair.
Meaning: A small town in Cosenza, Calabria.
Meaning: Flat slab of rock.
Meaning: Brisk tempo.
Meaning: Someone from the region of Abruzzi.
Meaning: Favored with good omens.
Meaning: A person from Florence.
Meaning: A person from Milan.
Meaning: Welcome or well-liked.
Meaning: Bravery or courage.
47. De Luca
Meaning: Son of Luca.
Meaning: Abruzzian or from Abruzzo.
Meaning: Edge of a sword, bold, or hardy.
Meaning: German shepherd dog.
Meaning: Vinegar or acetic acid.
Meaning: A Greek warrior and leader in the Trojan War. A hero of Homer’s Iliad.
Meaning: Of steel.
Meaning: Living water, running water, or spring.
Meaning: Famous warrior.
Meaning: High lady or tall woman.
Meaning: High walls.
Meaning: Old, to practice, experienced person, or a person who works with richness.
Meaning: Forsaken, abandoned.
Meaning: A person from the city of Zadra
Funny Italian Phrases
Not only is Italy beautiful, but its culture is filled with gorgeous phrases you can use to face life’s ups and downs. Here are several common phrases, along with their Italian translation, to help you along.
- In bocca al lupo. Translation: In the mouth of the wolf. Meaning: Good luck or break a leg.
- Ubriaco come una scimmia. Literal translation: Drunk like a monkey. Meaning: To be wasted.
- Avere le braccine corte. Translation: To have short arms. Meaning: This phrase is used to describe someone who is cheap or stingy with their money.
- Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala! Translation: You wanted the bike? Now you’ve got to ride it! Meaning: I told you so…
- Non avere peli sulla lingua. Translation: Without hair on his tongue. Meaning: To give a ruthless and honest opinion.
- Non avere peli sulla lingua. Translation: Without hair on his tongue. Meaning: Not to mince one’s words.
- Gettare la spugna. Translation: To throw in the sponge towel. Meaning: To give up on someone or something.
This article was originally published on