Recorded in several spellings including Caramuscia, Caramussa, and Caramusso, this is a surname of Italian origins. According to Fucilla's dictionary of Italian Surnames, it is one of a large group of what have to be described as medieval surname nicknames, which originate from insects and reptiles. However it is thought likely that most, if not all, have some heraldic pedigree. Almost every creature known to man was used in the Middle Ages when heraldry was at its height, as a 'charge' on the relevant coats of arms. The reptile group for instance, was used as a sign for prudence and sublety, although a snake, particularly a poisoned one, would have described an angry or malicious person! In this case the surname would seem to be Neopolitan, and one of the words for a green lizard, otherwise known in Italian as a lucertola. This reptile is also found in the surnames Lacerda, Certa, Sarica (Puglise), and Tammaro, from Caserta. From this it can be seen that Italian surnames are at best difficult to describe accurately, and often almost impossible. Furthermore centralised recordings of surnames as have existed in most European countries for at least five hundred years, were usually non existent, mainly because the state of Italy did not exist as a unified country before 1860.
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