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The Etymology of the Vigorito name

norman.gif (15962 bytes)The Italian surname of Vigorito is derived from the old French word Vigor  which is derived from the Latin word vigėre - to be lively or vigorous.  According to etymological research by the Heritage Arts Company vigor-derived surnames first appeared in England after the Norman Invasion of 1066 led by William the Conquerer. The Normans were Vikings who conquered and colonized the northern part of France that now bears their name (Normandy). Subsequently the Normans conquered England and southern Italy, including  the Campania region. Prior to the Vikings arrival to  Normandy a priest concerned over the pagan ways of the people went to live among them to convert them to Christianity. This Priest became the dragon-slayer  Saint Vigor (bishop of Bayeux, France). I have not seen any mention of the celebration of Saint Vigor among Italians.  St. Vigor's Day happens to be the same date as All Saints Day (November 1), suggesting that if St. Vigor was ever celebrated on the Italian peninsula it may have been absorbed and eventually "lost" in the celebration of All Saints Day.

It is quite clear that the name Vigor and all of its derivations are of a Norman origin.

The earliest record of  the Vigor surname appeared in 1221 in Worcestershire England (Walter le Vigrus) and in 1256 in the County Somerset (Henry Vigrus).  A William Vigurus lived in Oxford in 1279 and a William Vigrous in London in 1305.

It is possible that at least one Norman with a Vigor surname traveled with the large number of Normans  colonizing southern Italy about 1015-1046. The Normans quickly assimilated  and intermarried with the Italic groups that were present in the campania region (including the Lucani of Corelytum?) and the rest of southern Italy.   It is not too big of  a stretch to imagine that a Norman "Vigor" became a Vigorito. The other possibility, of course,  is that the  Norman word vigor had been incorporated into the Italian language and Vigorito was adopted as a surname to  describe the quality of an ancestor living during that time. However, consistent with a Norman heritage is the simple observation that  many Vigoritos (including myself) have Scandinavian physical characteristics-  blue eyes, light (blond/red) hair, and light complexion. 

Many Italian surnames indicate human qualities. The Italian word for  vigor is   vigoroso (vigorous, strong, powerful; energetic; strenuous - Webster's New World Italian Dictionary, USA:Macmillan, 1992). The Vigorito name, therefore, was most likely  a nickname refering adjectively to a person's quality or character-   "one who is vigorous".

Other Italian quality names ending in -ito:*

  • Pulito - clean
  • Ardito - courage; bold
  • Saporito - tasty; witty; gladness
  • Scaltrito - skill; intelligence (often in a derogatory sense)
  • Sollecito - quick
  • Favorito - favorite

Other surnames ending in -ito*

  • Esposito, Sposito - name given deserted children (i.e., orphans). Orphans were often displayed or exposed (esposto) to the public. Esposito, therefore, describes "one who was exposed".
  • Gemito - groan, moan (the famous sculptor Vincenzo Gemito was abondoned as an infant and found moaning by a nurse;  Fucila, p. 235.)
  • Morabito - hermit (Arabic-Italian)

* from Fucilla's Our Italian Surnames

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Last updated: March 23, 2000