What Does Your Maltese Surname Mean?

Names can be so weird

Surnames Cover

The deep, religious meaning of many Maltese first names is quite easily identified, but where exactly did our surnames come from? 

From Abela to Zammit Malta has quite the variety (bar the Borgs) and our friends over at Kelma Kelma have decided to help clear the air about a few of them.

1. Psaila

Derived from the word bsajla, your surname basically means onion. Time to become bffs with a Theuma...

2. Theuma

Most likely derived from the Arabic al-tawmi - aka someone who grows garlic in their fields. It could also be derived from the word tawm meaning twins.

3. Camilleri

We're not gonna beat around the bush with this one - your surname means camel driver.

4. Vella

Hey Vellas, you lucked out - your surname comes from bella i.e. beautiful.

5. Farrugia

Another surname of Arabic origins, Farrugia comes from al-farrudj, which sounds fancy, but really means chicken feeder.

6. Borg

Ah, the famous borg. Still occasionally used in colloquial terms, Borg means a pile of rocks. The original Arabic defenition for burdj was a small, rocky tower. (No, it has nothign to do with the Northerner's Borg with a hard 'g').

7. Micallef

Does your Micallef friend always have to have the final say? It may be in their blood as their surname literally means judge.

8. Scerri

The multiple spellings of Scerri vs Xerri are only the tip of the iceberg. This surname could have descended from the Sicilian sciarra meaning a fight or from Arabic's sharra meaning cruel. There's also theories about it being shirra meaning anger.

Either way, it's not looking good Scerris.

9. Calleja

You're either a descendant of the kalleyias, making you a farmer, or from the kallas meaning good and sweet. Alternatively you're both, making you a cute farmer.

10. Buhagiar

Congrats! You're the proud father of a bunch of rocks - just combine abu (Arabic for father) and hadjar (rocks).

11. Zahra

You're either shiny, or the beautiful white blossom of an orange tree. Either way, you're lucky (check out poor Scerri if you don't believe us).

12. Zerafa

You'd better hope you're a tall Zerafa or the irony of your surname will never wash away. Zarafah means giraffe. There is some hope, it may have come from zarifa, meaning graceful.

There you have it! Let us know if you want to see any more surnames, and make sure you follow Kelma Kelma for more fun and interesting facts about the Maltese language.

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READ NEXT: These 8 Maltese Words Have Officially Been Added To Our Vocabulary

Written By

Chucky Bartolo

If there's no Mariah Carey GIF or reference to Eurovision in this article, just assume they've been edited out against my will.