The Origin of the Chinappi Surname

I have always been curious about the origins of the family name of Chinappi.

As a child I had heard that the word “China” appearing in Chinappi was an indication
of my ancestors possibly being sailors that travelled the trade root to China.

I looked up the Italian word for China and found it was “Cina”

The rumor is possible, but there is nothing confirmed.

A dna match told me that he was told stories of how when China started to travel to Italy in the 1400-1500, Chinese women were brought to Italy for Italian men, and the children of those couples were given newly created names that started with “chi”. But this is still not confirmed.

To read an update of the China – Chinappi Connection, Click here

Then there were the nicknames from elementary and high school from my “friends”
that lovingly included:

Chinapps, Chin-ups, Chips, Chippy, Ga-nap, Gee-nap, and Appi. (Oh joy!)

In college the nickname graduated to: Chank Frinappi (based on Frank Chinappi)

(Oh Double-Joy!)

Recently I decided to look up the meaning of Italian surnames,
to help me find the origins of the Chinappi surname.

Here is what I found:

Italians didn’t generally use surnames until the Italian population started to grow
and more families needed to be distinguished one from another.
So beginning in the 15th century, Italians in the upper classes started to add a surname.
By the time of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), using a surname was a common practice
and further solidified by that council when they emphasized the need
to record baptisms, marriages, and burials.

Italian surnames generally come in a few main categories as far as their origins are concerned.

Where did my Italian last name come from?

Patronymics (The surname comes from an ancestor’s first name)—d’Alberto, d’Angelo, d’Alessi

Geographical areas—Lombardo, Di Genova, Napolitano

Descriptives or Nicknames—Franco, Betto, Zello, Gambino

Occupations—Ferraro, Carpenteri, Muratori

Some names even come from animals, insects, birds, objects, anatomy, and so on.

Some surnames, such as Esposito, Innocenti, and Incogniti, can even be used to identify a family who had an abandoned child somewhere in their family.


The way your Italian surname is spelled can tell you a lot about where your family is from.
For example, surnames ending in -o come from southern Italy,
but names ending in -a or -i generally come from the north.

In fact, many Italian last names originated from nick names.
Rossi, which is the most common surname in Italy, means “redhead.”


Chinappi is a very rare surname, few people in Italy have the family name
and might be arised from Italy.

Few people around the world have Chinappi as their surname.

I could not find ANY meaning for Chinappi.

So I tried to break the name up into CHI and NAPPI

Here is what I discovered:


pronoun [ indefinite, invariable ]

those, those who
Chi andava, chi veniva.
Those who were going, those who were coming.
Chi la pensa in un modo, chi in un altro.
There are those who think one way and those who think different.

(quale persona)

Chi è?
Who is it?
A chi l’hai detto?
Who did you tell?
Hanno voluto sapere chi è stato.
They wanted to know who it was



The Italian Nappi surname has several possible derivations.
It may have come from the words “nappa gib,” meaning “large nose,”
or perhaps from the Calabrian term “nappa,” used to denote a “clay dish.”

In either case, the Nappi surname is thought to have evolved from a nickname.

In general, Nappi would have been a plural form of the word, while Nappa,
would have been more popular as a name in Southern Italy.



Next, our cousin Bernard Chinappi from France has sent me this information and he is open to hearing from others about this as well:

Adresse E-Mail :

Bernard Chinappi writes:

Hereafter, I have expressed some thoughts on the name of CHINAPPI.

I am not a linguist and I am expressing here possibilities that I would like other contributors to verify and comment on, or even to refute.


As it concerns, for the beginning of the name, we find the association of the letters CH. In the old time, such a name beginning was typical for the Rome area.

This assembly replaces a Greek letter “X”, which is pronounced “ki” (we find this letter also in the present Russian alphabet).

It should not be forgotten that some people left the city of Troy (about 1000 BC) to arrive and found the city of Gaeta and further found the city of Roma.

Note that the expedition was led by Aeneas, who had with him Caïeta (hence the city of Gaeta) who was the nurse of his son Ascanius (or Iule). Wrong tongues will say that Caïeta was also the mistress of Aeneas.


It is likely that this name, in the past, did not end with the letter “I” and the neutral “O” seems possible to me. In Italian, as in other languages (Russian language, for example) the final “I” is a plural sign.

Thus we could say Mr Erasmo CHINAPPO of the CHINAPPI family.


On the other hand, it remains to be seen what is the initial meaning CHINAPPO or CHINAPPI.

Often the names are nicknames that have endured. These nicknames can be linked to a physical characteristic like BIANCO (white hair) or an attitude like GARBERO (kindness) or a job like FABBRO (blacksmith) or a place like POGGIO (mound) or a first name like Di MARCO (from Marc), … etc …

If I compare CHINA to the Latin ECHINUS (pronounced ekinus), itself borrowed from the ancient Greek ἐχῖνος (pronounced ekhīnos), which gave in old French ECHINUS then ECHINE in current French (vertebral column of an animal) and SPINE in English (we speak here from spinal column).

In Marseilles, in slang, we say of an old hunched man: “il s’est cassé l’échine au travail” and this gives in Italian “si è rotto la schiena al lavoro”.

In French slang we say rather “il s’est cassé le cul au travail” and in English “he broke his back at work”.

To conclude, I will therefore say that CHINAP comes from the Greek ἐχῖνος (pronounced ekhīnos) and related to a bowed attitude.

PS: nothing to do with China.

So basically some of the possible meanings of Chinappi are:

Chinappi: Who that has a large nose (nickname based on physical feature)

Chinappi: Who that makes Clay Dish (based on a profession of a potter)

Chinappi: Who that has a broken or bent back

Do you have any ideas or stories from older relatives about the origins
of the surname Chinappi?

Ask your grandparents, and share them with us!

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