Recorded as Formilli, Formigli, Formento and Formenti (italian) and Froment, Fromenteau, and Fromentin (French), this is a surname of Roman (Latin) origins. It originates from the word froment meaning corn, to 'frumentum' meaning a corn merchant, and as such is occiupational. To these original spellings have been added sometimes between individual generations of the same family, a bewildering number of diminutives and suffix, such as -elli, -illi, -illo, -to, -ti, all of which have the same meaning of 'little' or 'so or daughter of'. As the World Dictionary of Surnames says 'much work remains to be done on research,' whilst the Italian Dictionary of Surmnames commences with the prologue 'This is a very difficult subject ...' In most of Europe surnames commenced in about the 14th century and 'fixed spellings date from then, but not in Italy, where what are known as hereditary spellings did not take place for many names until the 20th century and the coming of the telephone. In fact world wide the telephone has forced people to adopt a single, continuous, surname spelling. Also recordings in Italy are very poor. The earliest that we have found is that of Maria Anne Formigli, who was christened at Impruneta, Firenze, on June 15th 1782.
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