Roman Naming Conventions – Tria Nomina

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Today, the 24 January 2022 marks the 1900th anniversary (AD 122-2022) of the commencement of the building of Hadrian’s Wall. The anniversary celebrations conclude, on 23rd December 2022 which is the final day of the Festival of Saturnalia.

The Romans and other people of Italy during the period of 14 Centuries built a system of nomenclature that was different from others across Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. This consisted of both personal names and family names. Referred to as the Tria Nomina, the combination was

  • Praenomen
  • Nomen
  • Cognomen

These came to be regarded as the basic elements of the Roman name, in fact representing a continuum of development from the 7th Century BC through to the end of the 7th Century AD.

The names that developed during this time became one of the defining elements of Roman Civilisation, despite the system itself disappearing during the early Middle Ages. The names though had significant influence on the development of naming practices across Europe, and many survive in modern languages, such as French, German and Italian, and opposed to the “dead” classical language of Latin.

Praenomen – A personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. First given eight days after the birth of a girl, and after nine days for the birth of a boy. Conferred a second time when girls married, or when boys reached manhood.

Nomen Genilcium – A hereditary name born by the peoples of ancient Italy and later by both citizens of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. As Rome gradually expanded, and people granted citizenship, it gradually lost it’s value in indicating patrilineal ancestry.

Cognomen – A third name for citizens of Ancient Rome under Roman naming conventions. Originally a nickname. It lost it’s purpose when it became hereditary. Cognomenia became the second name, (the gens or family name or clan name) in order to identify a particular branch within a family or clan.

Official image for the 1900 Hadrian’s Wall Festival – used with permission 2021

All my posts will be listed and linked above HERE, they can also be found using the category of 1900 Years of Hadrian’s Wall, and the full link for the series of posts

If you want to see who else is taking part in celebrating this amazing 1900th anniversary, or want to participate then please visit the main website the for the event HERE. You can read my entry HERE.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in 1900 Years of Hadrian’s Wall, Genealogy, History, Non-British Surnames, One-Name Studies, Surnames, Surnames Series 2022. Bookmark the permalink.

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