Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Gianni
Gianni is the diminutive of Giovanni which are both Italian forms of John. What Gianni is to Giovanni basically is the same as what Johnny is to John. John is the anglicized version of the Latin “Iohannes”, the Greek “Iōannēs” and the Hebrew “Yochanan” all of which translate to “Yahweh (God) is gracious” or “God is generous”. The name actually originated in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) as one of King David’s mighty men. However, John owes most of its popularity to two prominent New Testament figures: John the Baptist and John the Apostle. John has traditionally been a name of great importance since early Christianity. John the Baptist (like Jesus) was born under miraculous circumstances. The angel Gabriel appeared to his father (Zechariah) claiming that God will give his barren wife (Elizabeth) a son (John) to help prepare the way for the Messiah (Jesus). “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and lived in the wilderness until he became manifest to Israel.” [Luke 1:80]. It was John the Baptist who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. The other John, John the Apostle, was a fisherman, the brother of James, and a follower of Christ. He is most known as one of the authors of the four gospels of the New Testament. John’s gospel focuses on Jesus as the “Eternal One from heaven” and is considerably more theological and philosophical than the other three gospels. John is a name with many forms: Sean (Irish), Ian (Scottish), Giovanni (Italian), Jean (French), Juan (Spanish), Johann (German), Jan (Dutch), and Ivan (Russian). The name was reintroduced to Western Europeans after the First Crusade (11th century) by the Eastern Christians from the Byzantium Empire. It has become one of the, if not THE, most successful male names in the history of mankind. John has been borne by 23 Roman Catholic popes, eight Byzantium Emperors, scores of saints, many kings and several U.S. Presidents. In all of its many forms in various languages, John has been a perennial favorite. Giovanni is the most traditional and formal of the Italian versions of John, but Gian, Gianni, Giannino, Nino and Vanni are also used. While Giovanni is a high ranking name in Italy today, the diminutive Gianni is not. It is, however, a high ranking name on the island of Malta off the Sicilian coast.