This surname of MIRANDA is a Spanish, Catalan, Portugese, French, Italian and Sefardic Jewish habitation name from any of various places so called. The origin of this frequent place-name is uncertain. It seems to be from the Latin word MIRANDUS, meaning 'wondrous, lovely', but it is also possible that the name was used in the sense of a watch-tower or look out post. The name is also spelt MIRANDOLA, AMIRANDA, MIRRAN, MIRRAMS and MIRRIE. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. A notable member of the name was Comte Giovanni PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA (1463-94) the Italian philosopher and humanist, born in Mirondola, Ferrara. He studied in Italy and France, and settled later in Florence, where he came under the influence of Ficino, He wrote various Latin epistles and elegies, a series of florid Italian sonnets, and some important philosophical works. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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