Russo (Italian: [ˈrusso]) is a Southern Italian surname (Neapolitan and Sicilian), common throughout Central & Southern Italy, and elsewhere due to internal migrations.[1] It is the Southern counterpart of Rossi and comes from a nickname indicating red hair or beard, from russo, russë and russu, from Late Latin russus or rubius, Classical Latin rubeus, "red".[2][3]

Russo Coat of Arms.jpg
Russo Family Coat of Arms, as recorded in the documents of Sperlinga Castle, 1132
PronunciationItalian: [ˈrusso]
Language(s)Byzantine Greek
Language(s)Late Latin
Region of originSouthern Italy
Other names
Variant form(s)Russi, Lo Russo, Lorusso, La Russa, Larussa
Bayeux Tapestry, scene 32: Halley's Comet

A folk etymology says it comes from Standard Italian russo, "a Russian".[4]

Russo may denote Norman (French for Norseman, or Viking Norsemen) nobility in Sicily.[5][6]


The first recorded entry of the name Russo was discovered in the documents of Sperlinga Castle in Enna, Sicily, dated 1132.[7] According to those documents, the Norman Ruler, King Roger II had granted the land title of Sperlinga Castle to one of his descendants, Riccardo. Riccardo was a direct descendant of the House Hauteville (in Sicilian, d’Autavilla), and the King then made him a baron. As a baron, Riccardo then presumably took the surname Russo Rosso and bestowed to the castle a coat of arms featuring a comet against a red backdrop (see image above).[7] Prior to the Norman invasion of England, there was no recognizable system for hereditary coats of arms, but it was following that conquest that the Middle Ages saw the dawn of heraldry.[8] The features of the banner are significant in that they provide an explanation and give historical context to the devising of the title, Russo Rosso: red is an archetypal color symbolizing The Warrior, or in general, War, and the image of Halley’s comet has been characterized as an icon for the Viking Invaders, e.g. in the Bayeux Tapestry, denoting a portent of doom for the opposing forces.

It is perhaps owing to the original tandem identity of “Russo Rosso” that the same heraldry is cross-referenced for both the Rosso family [it] and Russo Rosso Camoli family.[9][10]


Geographical distributionEdit

As of 2014, 61.5% of all known bearers of the surname Russo were residents of Italy (frequency 1:277), 18.6% of the United States (1:5,429), 5.1% of Argentina (1:2,347), 4.6% of Brazil (1:12,345), 1.1% of France (1:17,406) and 1.0% of Australia (1:6,667).

In Italy, the frequency of the surname was higher than national average (1:277) in the following regions:

In Argentina, the frequency of the surname was higher than national average (1:2,347) in the following provinces:

In the United States, the frequency of the surname was higher than national average (1:5,429) in the following states:

In Brazil, the frequency of the surname was higher than national average (1:12,345) only in one state:[11]

Notable people named RussoEdit

Fictional charactersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "RUSSO significato orogine cognome famiglia". Gens (in Italian). Retrieved March 29, 2010.
  2. ^ De Felice, Emidio (1988). Dizionario dei cognomi italiani [Dictionary of Italian Surnames] (in Italian). Milan: Mondadori. pp. 216–217. ISBN 88-04-35449-6.
  3. ^ Alinei, Mario; Benozzo, Francesco (2017). Dizionario etimologico-semantico dei cognomi italiani [Etymological-Semantic Dictionary of Italian Surnames]. Savona: PM edizioni. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-88-99565-44-2.
  4. ^ Zanichelli Super-Mini Italian and English Dictionary. Chicago, IL: NTC Publishing Group. 1993. p. 231. ISBN 0-8442-8447-5.
  5. ^ Nze, Dozie (2017-07-28). "50 Common Italian Last Names And Their Meanings". Chartcons - Communications, Inspiration, Relationship and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 2020-02-02.
  6. ^ "Famiglia Russo, araldica genealogia stemma e origine Russo". Heraldrys Institute of Rome (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-02-02.
  7. ^ a b "Castello di Sperlinga - Storia Castello di Sperlinga - Dominazione Normanna". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  8. ^ Woodcock & Robinson (1988)
  9. ^ "Famiglia Rosso - Origine cognome Rosso - Scheda Araldica, stemma e storia della famiglia Rosso". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  10. ^ "Russo Camoli family - Russo Camoli last name origin - Heraldry and family Russo Camoli history with coat of arms". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  11. ^ Russo surname distribution