Last name: Szanto

Recorded as Szanto and Szantho, this is a surname of Hungarian and Askenasic medieval origins. It derives from the word 'szant' meaning to plough, and hence was an occupational surname for a farmer or minor landowner. The Hungarian language is to say the least - unusual in having a Finnish - Ugric origin, although fifteen hundred miles separates the two countries, and they have no obvious affinity or any record of cooperation. Hungarian surnames are also placed before the first name. This can cause confusion in the rest of the world, but it seems that until fairly recently and thanks to the joys of Communism, so few Hungarians were allowed to travel, it was not a problem! Amongst the famous figure artists of the 20th century was the Hungarian Szantho Maria, usually in the west referred to as Maria Szantho (1898 - 1984), who it seems was a man, although often referred to as a woman. Unfortunately we are not able to give seriously early examples of the recording of this name, as either the recordings have been lost, or were not made in the first place. However it is reasonable to assume that it was medieval, although 'szant' as a word may be 5th century or earlier.

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