This surname can be derived from a given name (thus making it a patronymic surname) as well as from a nickname (thus making it a descriptive surname). In the case of a patronymic surname, the surname is derived from the medieval masculine given name Ferrante
. It was a variant form of the name Ferrando
, itself a variant form of the name Fernando
, which was a contracted form of Ferdinando
. Some sources state that aside from this particular derivation, (there where instances where) the name Ferrante could also be directly derived from the French given name Ferrand
(also found spelled as Ferrant
), which would then essentially make Ferrante an italianization of a French name. The French name itself was a variant form of the given name Fernand
, which was a contraction of Ferdinand
and thus essentially a cognate of the aforementioned Fernando
In the case of a descriptive surname, the surname Ferrante is derived from medieval Italian ferrante
, which either meant "iron grey" or was simply the name for a greyish-brown (or reddish grey) colour that was similar to the colour of rusted iron. The word, which is ultimately derived from Latin ferrum
"iron", had originally come into being as a way to describe a particular colour of a horse's coat. But in the case (and context) of a surname, ferrante
is more likely to refer to the hair colour of the original bearer of the surname. It should be noted that the connection with horses still remains in the modern Italian definition of the word, though: in this day and age, ferrante
is the present participle of the Italian verb ferrare
meaning "to shoe a horse".
Also, it is worth mentioning that there are four places in Italy that carry the name Ferrante. The first is the hamlet of Ferrante d'Aragona
, which is located in the municipality of Acri, itself located in the province of Cosenza in the Calabria region of Italy. It is unknown when exactly the hamlet was founded, but we do know that it was named after king Ferdinand I of Naples (1423-1494), who was known as Ferdinando I "Ferrante" d'Aragona in Italian.
The second place is Monteferrante
, a municipality in the province of Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It was founded in the 12th century AD and named after either Roberto di Monteferrante (the man who owned the village and the area surrounding it at the time) or after the feudal lord Ferrante Caracciolo, who came to own the village and the surrounding area in the 15th century AD.
The third and fourth place are both mountains: Mount Ferrante (Monte Ferrante
) in the province of Bergamo (in the Lombardy region) and Mount Ferrante (Monte Ferrante
) near the municipality of Carovilli in the province of Isernia (in the Molise region). It is unknown where the first mountain got its name from, but the second mountain was named so because it was once a site for iron manufacturing.
It might be possible that the ancestors of some modern bearers of the Ferrante surname took their surname from one of these geographical places, but it is probably unlikely, at least when compared to derivation from a given name or nickname, which seem to have a greater likelihood of occurring. But even if the Ferrante surname is indeed locational in some cases, then the etymology is - in the end - still greatly similar to the etymology that is at the root of the given name derivation and the nickname derivation (for the surname).
Lastly, you might want to take a look at the surnames Ferrand
, which are closely related.
Known bearers of this surname include the Italian composer Andrea Ferrante (b. 1968) and the American football player Jack Ferrante (1916-2006).