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.

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.


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)

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *