Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Cane, Cana, Canna, Caneo, Cano, and Canet, and having multiple meanings and origins, this surname can best be described as 'European'. It is recorded in different forms in most countries, but in Southern Europe is probably of Roman (Latin) pre Christian origins. In these cases it is usually locational for one who lived by a 'canna'. This Latin word can have different meanings in different places. In Spain and Portugal it generally refers to a cave, and hence a cave dweller, whilst in France, Italy, and Catalonia, it usually describes a reed bed, and may even be occupational for one who supplied reeds for thatching. In some cases it may be a nickname for a tall, thin man, or possibly given the robust humour of the medieval times, the complete reverse! In Italy it may also derive from the medieval word 'cane' meaning a dog, and was presumably an occupational surname for a dog breeder, or a nickname for one who behaved like a dog, whatever that may be. For many nameholders however the name originates from the city of Caen, in Normandy, France. This city is named from a languistic contraction of pre 7th century Gaullish elements and translates as 'battle field'. Finally, the surname may also be of ancient Breton and Welsh origins, and deriving from the female given name "Keina". This name is itself believed to be a short form of the personal name "Ceinwen", from the ancient Gaelic "cain" meaning beautiful. The surname, however spelt, is probably first recorded in London, England, in the year 1300 when Hugh de Caen is listed as being a citizen.
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