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Italian to English Vocabulary

To help with family history documents

| B | C | D | E | F | G | I | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | Z |

- A -

abruzzese (abruzzesi):
of Italy's Region of Abruzzo, which before December 1963 was named Abruzzo e Molise, or of its language or people. Abruzzese: a man or woman from Abruzzo (plural abruzzesi).
Note: Following its separation from Abruzzo e Molise the Region of Molise was co-extensive with the former abruzzese Province of Campobasso, but in 1970 its territory was divided into the new Provinces of Campobasso to the northwest and Isernia to the southeast. [Map of the Regions of Italy]
Abruzzo Citeriore:
province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies roughly equivalent to the present Province of Chieti (CH) of Italy's Region of Abruzzo. Also called Abbruzzo Citra. Citeriore meant closer or near, as opposed to farther away from Naples, the kingdom's capital city. [Map of the Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples]
agricoltore:
farmer. Peasant land-owner who farms his land himself, as distinct from a proprietario, gentleman landlord; agricoltore replaced the word colono. (A "profession or condition" invented in order to maintain a social class distinction, when, following the abolition of feudalism in 1806, peasants were free to own land.)
allegati:
enclosures or attached documents; see processetti matrimoniali.
alifano (alifana):
of Alife or its people. Alifano (alifana): a man (woman) of or from Alife.
arciprete:
head ("arch") priest of a parish where there is more than one priest; several priests may be assigned to a parish, but they are all under the authority of the parish's pastor.
arcipretale, chiesa:
a church that has an arciprete.
assessore anziano:
one who takes the place of the sindaco in his absence.
atti di pubblicazione:
civil wedding banns.
atto (atti):
legal document(s), or the act of making such a document(s), or the thing(s) documented.
atto della solenne promessa di celebrare il matrimonio:
after the restoration of the Bourbon King of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816) weddings took place only in the Roman Catholic Church, but because the civil registration started in Napoleonic times (1805-1815) was continued after the Restoration, couples were required to make a solemn promise of intent to marry in front of the civil authority before the church wedding could take place. See pubblicazione and processetti matrimoniali.
atto di matrimonio:
civil marriage. The Kingdom of Italy, as had the Napoleonic regime, separated church and state, and civil weddings took place at the Casa comunale.
avo (ava):
grandfather (grandmother). Avo paterno: father's father.
avo paterno:
father's father.
àvolo (àvola):
See avo (ava).

- B -

barbiere:
barber (from the word for "beard", or barba).
beccaio:
butcher.
becchino:
man who carries the corpse to the cemetery and puts it in the grave; grave-digger.
bracciale:
See bracciante.
bracciante:
manual day laborer; farmhand. The lowest social state, agricultural workers were unemployed much of the year and would sometimes have to travel to other provinces to find work. Unskilled laborer, navvy.

- C -

calzolaio:
cobbler, shoe maker.
campagnolo (campagnola):
See contadino (contadina).
campobassano:
of or from Campobasso. Native of or inhabitant of Campobasso.
cancelliere:
clerk of the civil register. Cancelliere archivario: archival clerk. Cancelliere sostituto: deputy clerk.
CAP:
Codice di Avviamento Postale (Postal Code).
Capitanata:
province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies roughly equivalent to the present Province of Foggia in the Region of Puglia. [Map of the Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples]
cardalano:
scardassatore: wool-carder.
carraio:
wainwright; wagon-maker.
casa a pigione:
house that is someone else's property; rented house.
Casa comunale:
municipal or town hall (municipio).
casale:
group of houses, hamlet.
chirurgo:
surgeon.
cimitero:
cemetery.
circondario:
administrative division of a province.
citeriore:
that is here towards us; closer.
citra:
See citeriore.
Codice civile:
Civil Code.
Codice Napoleone:
Code Napoléon: the Civil Code of France, imposed on southern Italy in 1808 and the basis of the 1819 code of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The revision of the confused and contradictory mass of past law undertaken during the consulship of Napoleon I, Bonaparte, and published in 1804. (The name Code Napoléon is also given to the entire revision of the law, of which there are five codes: Criminal Procedure, Penal, Civil, Civil Procedure, and Commerce, consisting of 2,281 articles.)
cognato:
brother-in-law.
colle:
a hill. A pass (through the hills or mountains).
colono:
sharecropper. In ancient Rome colonus, -i, meant a small farmer, or sometimes a tenant farmer. A tenant farmer works land owned by a landlord and pays rent either with a share of the produce or with money. The "profession or condition" word colono is found still in early 19th Century Italian civil registers. Later it is replaced entirely by agricoltore. Where colono appears in the civil registers it means a farmer who works his own land; otherwise the word proprietario ("land owner") would have been used. [From Roman Colonus to Medieval Serf]
coltivatore:
cultivator (of the soil), farmer. A word found in the 1811 Civil Register of Gambatesa. See agricoltore, colono.
comare:
godmother (in baptisms). Woman who lives nearby, neighbor woman, but there are many other kinds of relationships (friendships) where this title is used.
commadre:
See comare: godmother.
compare:
godfather.
compiuti:
completed.
comune:
town (inhabited center) with the territory, usually but not always contiguous, it administers; township, borough. City or other place more or less autonomously administered by a consiglio comunale and a sindaco; municipality.
A comune is an administrative unit in Italy, consisting of a village center and the agricultural area (agri) that surrounds it; sometimes in addition to the village and its fields and forests, a comune also administers one or more frazioni di comune.
conjugi della Terra di ... :
husband and wife (spouses) of the Land (Comune) of ...
consiglio:
council. Consiglio comunale: town council.
Consiglio di famiglia:
"Family Council": legal process in which a committee of relatives and family friends acceptable to a judge decides whether a minor or a person whose parents and grandparents are not alive may marry such and such a person. Example: Family council from 1844 (in Italian only).
contadina (contadine):
country woman (women). Farmer's wife who does not herself own property.
contadino (contadini):
country man (men); villager (country folk); inhabitant(s) of the countryside; worker(s) of the land, farmer(s); peasant(s); member(s) of the lowest social class.
Cafone: poor contadino (the cafoni: "Poor farmers, men who make the earth bear fruit but themselves suffer hunger" — Silone). Colono: farmer of land he does not own.
contrada:
quarter, district. Contrada carestia famine quarter — i.e. land no good for farming.
contraente (contraenti):
party (parties) to a contract.
corso:
wide and long street.
Corte di Cassazione:
Court of Cassation ('cassation' = 'the power to annul'): Italy's final court of appeal, and therefore Supreme Court.
crocesignato:
signed with the Sign of the Cross (†), by someone who cannot sign his name.
curato:
parish priest. Ecònomo curato: priest who administers the revenues of a parish.

- D -

da:
short for è nato (nata) da: he (she) was born of.
dal (dalla) fu:
born of the now deceased man (woman).
defunto (defunta):
deceased man (woman).
dei furono:
of the who-were-in-life; plural of del fu.
del (della) fu:
of the now deceased man (woman); short for figlio (figlia) del fu.
delli qq.m:
See dei furono.
di:
short for figlio (figlia) di: son (daughter) of the now living; or short for marito (moglie) di: husband (wife) of the now living.
dichiarante (dichiaranti):
person (people) who makes a declaration or who gives testimony. Compare testimone.
dietro:
behind; on the other side. At the back.
di sopra:
upper, above.
di sotto:
lower, below.
diritti:
fees. In the 1819 birth document of Francesco Maria d'Alesandro, Diritti grana cinque — 0:05 appears to mean something like: Registry dues of five (cinque) hundredths measures of grain (grana) (See "When wheat was like gold").
distretto:
judicial or military or etc. district.
domiciliato ivi:
living at the place mentioned.
don:
title given to all priests, and given by the poor to all powerful people (the rich, the doctor, lawyers and judges). From the Spanish title Don.
donna di casa:
lady of the house (a social step above contadina). For example: "... e da Filomena Iadarola, donna di casa." [Gambatesa Nascita 1894 #108]
Note by Angelo Abiuso (Geneva):
Filomena Iadarola was a girl from a rich family; her husband promised her before the wedding to not force her to work with him in agriculture. This is the reason for the "donna di casa" (house-wife or something like this).
Therefore, "woman of the house" as opposed to "woman of the house and (vegetable) garden and barnyard and (sometimes also) fields" (because women and children were strong enough to weed among the crops, for example, although not strong enough to plow the land, which the poor did with a hand tool).

- E -

ecònomo curato:
priest who administers the parish's revenues; bursar.
esposizione di un fanciullo (una bambina)::
"exposure" (abandonment on a doorstep or at a place of charity, such as a convent) of a newborn baby boy (girl).
estratto di nascita (morte):
official copy of a birth (death) entry in the original Civil Register of Births (Deaths). Or, for events before 1809: a copy of a birth (death) entry provided by a priest from the original Parish Register; also called a fede di nascita (morte). See processetti matrimoniali.

- F -

fabbio:
See fabbro.
fabbro:
smith (a worker in metals); maker. Blacksmith. Locksmith.
fabbricatore:
builder.
Faccio fede:
"I give the proof of this event" (e.g. of a birth or death). Also Si fa fede: "This is the proof (Here is the certificate) of this event." (Italian-French equivalent: fare fede = faire foi = prouver.) Example: an Italian birth record from 1795.
facente le veci del sindaco:
substituting for the sindaco.
falegname:
carpenter.
fede di nascita (morte):
See estratto di nascita (morte).
ferraro:
blacksmith.
feudo:
fief, fiefdom, feud (a territory owned by a feudal landlord); Gambatesa was a feud until the abolition of feudalism in 1806 (by the Kingdom of Naples under Napoleonic rule).
figlia del (della) fu:
daughter of the now deceased man (woman).
figlio (figlia) di:
son (daughter) of the living.
figlio del (della) fu:
son of the now deceased man (woman).
figlio (figlia) dei furono:
son (daughter) of the now-deceased parents. For example, Nunziata DiRenzo figlia dei furono Giuseppe, e Maria Vittoria d'Alessandro: Nunziata DiRenzo, daughter of the now-deceased (father) Giuseppe (DiRenzo), and of the now-deceased (mother) Maria Vittoria d'Alessandro.
flebotomo:
salassatore: bleeder.
focàtico:
tax on every fire (fuoco), or hearth, that is to say household (house, householder and his family).
folio:
foglio: page or leaf of paper.
fondachero:
an [unidentified] occupation [or a misreading of the Italian document].
forno:
oven. Bread bakehouse.
frazione:
outlying administrative division of a municipality — that is, a suburb (small village or hamlet) of a comune, that is administered by the comune.
fu:
short for figlio (figlia) del fu: son (daughter) of the who-was-in-life. For example, Giovanni Valente fu Nicola: Giovanni Valente, son of the now deceased Nicola Valente. (Fu is the third-person singular, simple past tense (preterit) of the verb to be: he or she or it was.) Furono: short for figlio dei furono.
fuochi:
fires (singular: fuoco) — i.e. in early censuses: hearths or households.

- G -

galantuomo:
gentleman (as a social class or condition).
gambatesano (gambatesani):
of Gambatesa or its people. Gambatesano (Gambatesana): man (woman) from Gambatesa.
gènero:
son-in-law.
gentildonna:
woman of high social distinction; gentlewoman.
gentiluomo:
man of noble lineage; gentleman.
genitori:
parents, mother and father. Genitori ignoti (ignoti genitori): parents unknown.
germano:
brother or sister born of the same parents, as opposed to a stepbrother (fratellastro) or step-sister (sorellastra); also written fratello germano or sorella germana.
giardiniere:
gardener.
granone:
Indian corn (maize).

- I -

ignoto (ignoti):
unknown. See padre ignoto.
impiegato:
employee.
incompiuti:
not yet completed.
indicazione:
confirmation within an atto of the occurrence of a non-civil event, for example of a baptism or church wedding, pertinent to the atto.
insegnate:
teacher.
ivi:
in that place; therein.

- L -

largo della fontana:
the open space around the fountain.
leggista:
jurist.
levatrice:
midwife.

- M -

macellaio:
butcher.
maestro elementare:
primary school teacher.
maggiore d'età:
adult; having reached the age of majority, "of age". Contrasts with minore d'età.
magnifico, il:
(Antiquated.) Title given princes, public officials and the like: magnificent.
marito di:
husband of the living.
massaio:
peasant (contadino) who is in charge of the work of a farm, and who looks after the tools and the livestock; overseer. Manager of farmland; colono. One who supervises a team of workers.
massaro:
See massaio.
masseria:
farm. Farmhouse.
matesino (matesina):
of the Matese Mountains or its people.
matrimonio:
marriage.
medico:
medical doctor.
merciaio:
haberdasher.
messo:
messenger, usher. Messo comunale: town-hall usher.
minore d'età:
minor; underage (maybe: aged under 18 years old).
moglie di ... :
wife of the living (husband named). Compare moglie del fu: wife of the deceased.
molinaro:
miller.
molisano (molisani):
of Italy's Region of Molise or its people. Molisano (molisana): man (woman) from Molise.
morte:
death.
morti-nati:
atti of children born dead.
municipio:
See Casa comunale.
muratore:
stonelayer or bricklayer.

- N -

nascita:
birth. Example: Italian birth record from 1887, with English translation.
nato (nata) a:
man (woman) born at, suggesting that the person no longer lives at that place.
nato (nata) da:
born to the man (woman).
nato (nata) in:
man (woman) born in.
neonato (neonata):
newborn, baby boy (baby girl).
nipote:
grandchild. Nephew or niece.
negoziante:
shop keeper.
notificazione (notificazioni):
See pubblicazione (pubblicazioni).
notaio:
notary (public).
nubile:
unmarried female.

- O -

orologio:
clock. Extreme margin.
orti:
vegetable (or, kitchen) gardens; market gardens. Orchards. Strada or Via dietro gli orti: the street behind the gardens, or, orchards.
ostetrice (also ostètrica):
levatrice: midwife.

- P -

padre ignoto:
father unknown. When a baby was born out of wedlock and its mother did not give it up for adoption, then the mother's name was recorded in the birth record and the father was recorded as being unknown. Also padre incerto: father uncertain.
paese:
village, town. Native village, hometown; home country, native land. Region, territory.
parente:
one who is related by blood or by marriage (in-law).
parenti in primo grado:
related in the first degree, as are for example first cousins (cugini di primo grado).
parroco:
parish priest.
pastore:
shepherd.
pigione, in casa a:
in a house that is someone else's property; in a rented house.
pinciajuolo (also pinciajualo):
an [unidentified] "condition or profession" found in the civil registers of Gambatesa circa 1819.
possidente:
one who has possessions, especially houses, farms. Landowner.
pretore:
magistrate.
pretura:
magistrate's court; circuit or superior court.
principato:
land ruled by a prince; principality.
Principato Citeriore:
a province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, roughly equivalent to Italy's Region of Campania's present Province of Salerno (SA). The name might be roughly translated as The "Near Princedom", as opposed to The "Far Princedom", near and far, that is, to the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples. Also called Principato Citra. [Map of the Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples]
Principato Ulteriore:
a province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, roughly equivalent to Italy's Region of Campania's present Provinces of Benevento (BN) and Avellino (AV). "The Farther away Princedom" in contrast with Principato Citeriore ("The Nearer Princedom"). Also called Principato Ultra.
proietto (proietti):
foundling(s), "outcast(s)" — i.e. child(ren) given up for adoption; or, an institution where such children were received. Example: Birth record from 1876, with English translation.
proprietario:
one who owns real estate and lives off the income from it. Gentleman landlord.
processetti matrimoniali:
documents required by the civil authority for marriage (also called allegati): birth certificates (atti di nascita) of the spouses (and for when weddings took place only at church: proof of baptism); death certificates of deceased parents (atti di morte) (and when a father was deceased, also the death certificate of his father), since people, regardless of their age, could not marry without parental consent; summary of the marriage banns (pubblicazioni) with testimony that they had been posted for the period required by law; and for when weddings took place only at church: a notation (indicazione) by the parish priest that the wedding had taken place. The decision of a Consiglio di famiglia also belongs among the processetti. See atto di matrimonio and atto della solenne promessa, and this description of the role of processetti in family history research.
professione o la condizione, S'indichi la:
Indicate the profession ("occupation" or "calling") or condition ("station in life" or "social class") of the person named here.
pubblicazione (pubblicazioni):
civil marriage bann(s) which were posted on the principal door of the Casa comunale. Also called indicazione (indicazioni). Example: Summary translation of pubblicazioni from 1887.

- Q -

qq.m:
quondam applied to more than one person.
q.m:
quondam applied to only one person.
quondam:
(Latin) formerly, as in: who was (were) in life named so-and-so, but is (are) now deceased.

- R -

Re del Regno delle Due Sicilie:
King of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
registro:
book where civil atti are recorded.
residente in vita a ... :
when alive lived at (the following place).
rurali:
title given by Mussolini to the contadini.

- S -

S. di C.:
Segno di Croce.
sacerdote:
priest.
sagristano:
sagrestano: sacristan, sexton.
salassatore:
one who draws blood in order to treat, by cutting into a vein usually of the arm, or by attaching leeches. Bleeder.
Sanmarco:
early spelling of San Marco (Saint Mark).
Sannicola:
early spelling used to indicate the street named San Nicola (Saint Nicholas); there is also a church in Gambatesa named San Nicola.
Sant'Angelo:
Holy Angel, usually Saint Michael the Archangel.
sartore:
sarto: tailor.
scardalano:
See scardassatore.
scardassatore:
wool-carder.
scardatore:
See scardassatore.
scarpellino:
stone mason.
secondo eletto:
official who comes after the sindaco — i.e. the second in charge.
Segno di Croce:
Sign of the Cross — i.e. the mark of the Latin cross (†), used in place of a signature by those who did not know how to write. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.: Nel nome del Padre, del Figlio e dello Spirito Santo. Amen.
servo della gleba:
servant (slave) of the earth (gleba: clod of earth) — i.e. serf: a man or woman who cannot be sold separately from the feudal territory (feud) in which he lives, but the feud in which he lives can be sold to another landowner. The serf has feudal rights and responsibilities to the landowner, but is prohibited from owning land. Every serf household must also pay taxes to the government. (Feudalism was abolished in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1806.)
signora:
lady, mistress (padrona). Rich woman.
sindaco:
chief administrative official of a comune, whose principal responsibility was civil registration. Sometimes translated "mayor". However, the sindaco was not a servant of, nor an advocate for, the people of the village; he was an administrator of the will of the Provincial government and ultimately of the king, as his use of the royal "we" (Noi) indicated; he was frequently from outside the village and might take any attitude he chose toward the contadini (common people, peasantry). Municipal magistrate.
sopra la fontana:
area overlooking the fountain.
stato civile:
Civil Registration; information ("vital statistics") collected about individuals (birth records, marriage records, change of residence, death).
stato di famiglia:
Registration of Families; information collected about family units (households).
strada:
street.
supplente:
substitute, temporary.
supportuo della torre:
base of the tower.

- T -

tavernaro:
keeper of a modest drinking establishment.
Terra di Lavoro:
a province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, roughly equivalent to Italy's Region of Campania's present Province of Caserta (CE). [Map of the Provinces of the Kingdom of Naples]
tessitore (tessitrice):
male (female) weaver.
testimone (testimoni):
man (men) who witnesses that a declaration has been made or that testimony has been given; always resident at the comune where he (they) serves.
tinaio:
cooper: a barrel (for grape must or dyes) maker.
torrente:
a fast flowing mountain stream, brimming with water during the rainy winter and spring, but running almost dry in summer.
tufarolo (tufaroli):
of Tufara (CB) or its people (tufaroli). Tufarolo (tufarola): man (woman) from Tufara.

- U -

ufficiale dello Stato Civile:
official of Civil Registration (Vital Records).
ufficio dello stato civile:
office where birth, marriages, residency changes, and deaths are registered (that is, recorded and described in a registro), but this office is in the town hall (casa comunale); (British) registry office; Hall of Records, Office of Vital Statistics.
ulteriore:
that is farther away, beyond.
ultra:
See ulteriore.
Università:
under the Napoleonic regime, the comuni of the Kingdom of Naples were called Universitas civium (It. comunità cittadine) or "Communities of Citizens".

- V -

vaticale:
See vetturale.
vedovo (vedova):
widower (widow).
vetturale:
one who for compensation transports things or persons with pack animals or with a 2- or 4-wheeled wagon; carter.
via:
street. Via dietro: street behind.
viale:
avenue.
viaticale:
See vetturale.
viatuale:
See vetturale.
vico:
vicolo. (Latin) neighborhood.
vicolo:
lane, small street, alley.

- Z -

zampogna:
bag-pipe.
zampognaro:
bag-pipe player.
zio (zia):
uncle (aunt). But this word has much wider application in Italian than it has in English (although not so wide as in Chinese). It can be applied to many relatives, for example older male cousins; and even to older men who are not relatives, if they are family friends or are well-known in the community (for example shopkeepers or craftsmen). Compare compare (comare) above.

Dictionaries Used

Note: many of the definitions on this page were deduced from context; however, these dictionaries were also used:


The URL of this page: http://www.roangelo.net/vocabula.html
Last revised: 15 November 2012 : 2012-11-15 by Robert Wesley Angelo.

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