This Spanish, Catalan and Portugese surname of ESPOSITO was a metonymic occupational name for an armourer or swordsman. The name was originally derived from the Old Portugese word ESPADA, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form SPATHA, denoting a broad, two-edged sword without a point. The name has spread widely in many forms including ESPADAS, ESPADERO, ESPASA, SPADA, SPATA, SPATARUL and SPATONI. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish derivatives. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. The Russian-born bacteriologist Elie METCHNIKOFF (1845-1916), a colleague of Pasteur, was a direct descendant of the Rumanian nobleman Gheorge Stefan SPATARUL, who emigrated to Russia with Prince Demetrius Cantemir in 1711. His surname derived from a title at the court of Moldavia, and in Russia he translated it literally to become Yuri STEPANOVICH. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'.
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