Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Gallo" as a surname

The surname "Gallo" is found throughout the Italian peninsula. It means "Gallic" or "Gaulish," which goes back to Cisalpine Gaul, or even to Gaul itself. It is the Celtic equivalent to the Langobard originated "Lombardi."

Both surnames, and their variations, are common in the north and south, but not the central. In the north, they're common for obvious reasons. In the south, probably due to the fact that a Langobard or Gaul was unusual, hence making it a surname. In the central Italian peninsula, perhaps they were thought of as somewhat of a nuisance due to close proximity, making a surname less likely. However, that is only speculation.
Only recently did I really look at Gallo as a strong heritage name. Its origin may have come from Roman times, if someone was either from Gaul or was a governor, military figure, or businessman who had many dealings with the Roman province of Gaul.
If "Gallo" is used as the first portion of a hyphenated name, then it could mean various things. It might actually mean Gallic, usually if it was in reference to something from ancient or Roman times, or in an anthropological manner. It may also refer to a family, like the Gallo wine family of northern California. It's possible that it might refer to certain regions of the Italian peninsula as well.
It should be pointed out that the surname is particularly common to Piemonte, Liguria, west Lombardy, and the Veneto; and also in Campania and Calabria. Oddly, it's extremely common in west Lombardy, but not very common in east Lombardy. It's also not very common in any area of the north or central outside of the above mentioned areas.


8-1-14 Addition: Numerically-speaking, "Gallo" is the number twelve surname in Italy. Although "Gallo" is frequently used in a linguistic sense as a reference to the old Gaulish language; actually it can also literally mean "rooster."


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