Beautiful Italian Baby Names -- and What They Mean
There are so many great Italian baby names, how can you choose? Here are some of the top ones (along with their meanings).
Finding a name for your new arrival is a tough job. Narrowing your search is a good way to make this big task more manageable, and if your family has Italian roots -- or you're just passionate about Italy's culture and language -- looking at Italian baby names is a great place to start.
Looking to family for name inspiration is a frequent practice in Italy. "It's not uncommon in many Italian families for the babies to be named after relatives, both those living and those who have passed," says baby name expert Neala Shane, the author of "Inspired Baby Names from Around the World." Often, the paternal grandfather is the one that is being honored and a baby's name might be tweaked a bit to reflect this. "For example, if the grandfather's name was Angelo, the newborn baby girl might be name Angela. If the grandfather's name is Carlo, the new baby might be named Carla," Shane explains.
It's common for Italian children to have more than one middle name, so many relatives can be honored. Additionally, many Italians are named after saints. Sometimes this is a patron saint of the town or local church, or the child might be named after a saint the parent feels a strong affinity with. Religious names like Mary and Maria are common, as well, says Shane.
Picking the perfect name -- Italian or otherwise -- is not easy. "One way to begin the process is to start a mutual list. Post it and agree you each have veto power. Each name can get a check if agreed upon or a line through it," says Barbara E . Harvey, the author of the book "Journeys Through Parenthood." She adds, "One good way of choosing a name is by looking up its meaning."
Remember, it's not only the way the name sounds or what it means, but the way the name makes you feel, says Tina Gilbertson, a psychotherapist and author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them." "Be sure to explore any emotional attachments or aversions you or your partner may have to particular names." Emotions play a strong part in the naming process, and your gut will often tell you if a name is a go (or not).
Start with this list of some of the top Italian baby names and their meanings, compiled with help from Shane and her book:
Italian Baby Name for Girls
- Allegra (ah-LAY-grah)
In music, allegro means to play at a quick tempo. That lively spirit is captured in Allegra, which means "merry, cheerful and happy."
- Ambra (AHM-brah)
Named after the amber gemstone, Ambra represents the yellow-orange color or the beautiful jewel.
- Annabella (ah-nah-BEH-lah)
Annabella, a more unique combination of Anna and Belle, means "gracious" and "beautiful."
- Arianna (ah-ree-AH-nah)
This name, which means very "holy" and "devout," is one of the top 25 girls' names in Italy, according to Nameberry.
- Bianca (bee-AHN-kah)
The name Bianca represents "white" and "fair."
- Chiara (kee-AHR-ah)
Chiara, the Italian version of Clare, means "clear" and "transparent."
- Dulcia (dool-CHEE-ah)
Just like it sounds, Dulcia signifies "sweet" and "pleasant."
- Giada (JAH-dah or jee-AH-dah)
Giada means "jade," and is a great alternative to the more common Gianna or Gia.
- Gisella (jeh-ZEL-ah)
The name Gisella means "pledge, promise, vow and oath."
- Graziella (graht-zee-AY-lah)
This name means "graceful, gracious and blessed."
- Patrizia (pah-TREET-zee-ah)
Patrizia means "noble one," and is a variant of Patricia.
Italian Baby Names for Boys
- Aldo (AHL-doh)
Aldo, which means "noble, high-born and honorable," has a German origin but is very popular in Italy.
- Carmelo (kar-MEHL-oh)
The botanical name Carmelo means "vineyard, garden and orchard."
- Dario (DAH-ree-oh)
Dario, a variant of Darius, means "to possess a lot of wealth."
- Enrico (en-REE-koh)
This strong name means "ruler of the home" and is the Italian version of Henry.
- Lorenzo (loh-REHN-zoh)
Lorenzo is named after that found in nature -- the laurel tree and laurel wreath.
- Mario (MAH-ree-oh)
The name Mario means "warrior."
- Pietro (pee-EH-troh)
A more unique take on Peter, Pietro means "strong rock or stone."
- Salvatore (sahl-vah-TOH-reh)
Signifying "savior" and "salvation," this name has religious connotations.
- Taddeo (tah-DAY-oh)
Taddeo means "gift from God" and is a less common take on Thaddeus.
- Valentino (vah-lehn-TEE-noh)
Modern parents may associate Valentino with the fashion brand, but this ancient saintly name means "strong, vigorous and healthy."
- Vito (VEE-toh)
Vito means "full of life."
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Judy Koutsky is the former editorial director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also executive editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter.