Name Spotlight: Durante


Most of you have heard of that poet Dante and some of you might even know his full name.
Today, the spotlight turns to major Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s full first name.

The meaning

According to Behind the Name, Durante is derived from Durans, a Late Latin name meaning “enduring.” Dante is the medieval short form of Durante.

More about the poet

Dante, as he is most simply called, was born Durante degli Aligheri to Alighiero/Alaghiero di Bellincione and Bella. His exact birth date is unknown, however clues from the beginning of the Inferno sections and some parts of the Paradiso section of the Divine Comedy (according to Harold Bloom, a widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature) suggest that he was probably born in the period between mid-May and mid-June of 1265.

It’s not just the Divine Comedy’s beauty that Dante was and is still famed for. He played an important role in the establishment of the national language of Italy when he wrote works like The New Life in the Tuscan dialect and, of course, The Divine Comedy in the amalgamated literary language, based mostly on the Tuscan dialect, that is now Italian.

Historical usage

Looking through the Medieval Names Archive, the first use of a Durant* name that I encountered was from a collection of men’s and women’s names from Latin records from southern Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries. In this case, I’ve found a ‘Durantus son of Indolfus’ recorded in Cava in 1184, however it’s likely that Durantus would be translated into Duranto, seeing as if *o names were derived from Latin names ending in *us.

The first use of Durante that I can find from the archive was from a collection of masculine names from 13th-century Pisa. In that case, 2 Durantes and no Dantes were recorded in the data. Using data from the Tratte of Office Holders in Florence from 1282-1532, Dante was the more common name – 37 Dantes or 0.022% of all the office holders – with Durante following – 23 (or 24 if you include Durantozzo) Durantes or 0.014% of all the office holders. Staying in Florence, the Catasto of 1427 recorded 2 Dantes and Durantes each.
So, by the looks of it, Durante was mostly confined to the region of Tuscany, however a Durante was recorded in a collection of names borne by male and female Jews in 1550s Rome.

Usage since the 19th century

Durante was still given in Italy but it retained its uncommonness. Going through the search results on FamilySearch, I found 24 results linking to records from Civil Registrations across Italy. Even if several results point to the same person, it shows that it was still uncommonly (or very uncommonly) used.

According to NOMIX, Durante was used on 0.0015% of the whole population, ranking 1,175th in the most common names in Italy, with Durante especially prominent in Apulia, Veneto and Liguria regions. In more recent years, Durante became rarely used (Dante, on the other hand, is rising, ranking 178th in 2014) with only one boy each being given this name in Italy in 2012 and ’13.

Usage outside of Italy

The only country where I can find some sort of evidence of use is the United States (if a record containing a person named ‘Durante Je(e)ve’ being christened in Broughton by Brigg, England in 1741 and died a year later has an image to add, then I would have added England was the other place to see usage of Durante).
Usage of Durante there goes back to around 18th or 19th century. Examples from the Social Security Administration Death Index from that time include:

  • Durante Williams – born in 1896
  • Durante Morris – born in 1898

In the birth index, Durante made his first appearance (given to 5 baby boys or more) in 1972. Its usage is sporadically rare, peaking in 1991 when 9 Durantes in the index were born, and in 2014, 7 Durantes were born.

Let me know what you think of Durante and/or this post in general. Do you still prefer Dante to Durante? Am I going too far with the layout, the text etc.? Post your thoughts in the comments section below the sources.

Behind the Name –
FamilySearch (includes SSA Death Index) –
Online Tratte of Office Holders –
Masculine Names from Thirteenth Century Pisa –
Florence’s Catasto of 1427 –
South Italian Names from the Norman Kingdom, 11th-12th Centuries –
Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550’s –
Commonness of names in Italy –
Popularity of Durante in Italy –
Popularity of Durante in the United States –


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