“Le Crincoli di vallata”

The Crincoli Genealogy Homepage


I Soprannomi di Vallata

by Antonio Crincoli (IGG)


While conducting my genealogical research over the past few years, I stumbled across an interesting and useful Italian genealogical tool, “i soprannomi”.  Recently, the focus of my research has extended beyond my direct ancestors and their immediate families, in an attempt to identify and merge all the “Crincoli” families of my father’s ancestral village (Vallata, prov. Avellino).  My presumption, was that since the village is rather small (pop ±3,000), all those with “Crincoli” as their surname must somehow be related.  As I started to compile the “Crincoli” families, I found I could directly tie all the hundreds of persons with “Crincoli” as their surname to a specific families in Vallata, …regardless of where in the world I encountered them!!  The difficulty in family association was simplified by the use of a village custom called “i soprannomi” or family nickname.


An Italian genealogist frequently encounters similar names due to the common process of naming children in Italy (i.e. first born male after paternal grandfather, female after paternal grandmother, second born male after maternal grandfather, female after maternal grandmother, etc. ).  One can imagine, particularly after many generations, how many persons can have the same name (given name and surname) and yet be only remotely related.  A unique evolution of family identification evolved, similar to and in some cases parallel to the evolution of Surnames or Cognome (refer to “Our Italian Surnames” by Joseph G. Fucilla).  Soprannomi or nicknames developed partly as a result of a growing populations in towns and cities, where using one’s given name eventually became an inadequate means of identification.  Soprannomi like Cognomi were assigned to persons based on their professions, parents names, distinctive anatomical or personal traits, or even areas where they lived.  Interestingly enough, some Soprannomi supplanted cognomi in terms of recognition and everyday usage by villagers.  Some Soprannomi were recognized for particular persons, while others for families.  While Cognomi never changed, some Soprannomi endured for generations and for others, new names developed over their lifetimes.  Some were insulting and never spoken within earshot of the subject. 

What follows are some of the Soprannomi of the Crincoli families of Vallata;


Soprannome     English Translation    

di “mimi l’orefice”    Carmine (shortened), the jeweler

di “lo benvenuto”    welcomer

di “zi franco”       uncle Francesco

di “fugnulu fugnulu”   (dialect) a hurried person

di “libera”        child of Libera (a woman’s name) 

di “tinga tinga”      (dialect) a discrete spy

di “zuppo mushillo”   (dialect) crippled one

di “zio collucci”     uncle Michael (shortened)

di “san giorgio”     San Giorgio (a section of Vallata) 

di “lo rosso”       red haired

di “tatta nusoli”     (dialect) grandfather Nunzio

di “piccirillo”       short of stature

di “la tendera”      storeowner          

di “vardare”       (dialect) saddle maker

di “XX Settembre”    a local village street   

di “cesillo”                Generoso (shortened)

di “chici chacca”      (dialect) believed to mean splashing water

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