Recorded in many forms including Camelli, Camerana, Camilli, Camillo, Camilleri, Camilletti, Camerati, Camerello and others, this is an Italian surname of antiquity. It has two known origins, but there may be others. The first is from the Roman (Latin) personal name 'Jacomus' or in English 'James', in which just three letters are used in a transposed order to create the base form of 'Cam' to which have been added an endless variety of diminutives and patronynmics to give as examples Cameli, Camelli, or Camilli, all meaning in effect 'son of James' or Little James'.Secondly the name may have been a nickname from the word 'camoscio', meaningf 'snub nosed', again just taking the first three letters, and adding suffix endings to choice! Italian surnames are traditionally the most difficult for an etymologist, in that not only was the spelling changed at will from generation to generation, but the actual base meanings can vary across the country in a way that applies in no other country. Even the famous dictionary of Italian Surnames by the late Joseph Fucilla states that: 'the subject is unusually complicated...', in fact it can be argued that only the arrival of the Telephone Directory forced fixed spellings on much of the country. In this case early examples of the surname recording showing the developments at least in part, include: Anna Camerana who married Giovanni Re, at Rivarolo, Torrino, on February 6th 1674, and Silvestre Camillo, who married Raffaele Montagona at Rignano, Foggia, on December 9th 1810.
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