Thanks to Ree for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
The baby name Enzo is zippy and brief, an impeccable Italian heritage choice.
But could it truly be … German?
One theory for the meaning of Enzo is “home ruler.” Yup, exactly the same as Henry. That’s because Enzo might come from Heinz, a short form of Heinrich. Heinrich, in turn, is the German form of Henry.
It’s easy to imagine Heinz becoming Enzo in Italian, but it’s not the only possible origin.
There’s also Anzo, another German name mostly forgotten today. It means “giant.”
LORENZO and VINCENZO
But the explanation that feels most obvious is this: Enzo is a short form of Italian names like Lorenzo and Vincenzo.
Both names are traditional in Italy – and, in various forms, elsewhere in the Western world. Lorenzo is Lawrence and Vincenzo is Vincent.
While just Enzo fails to chart in the current Italian Top 100, both Vincenzo and Lorenzo do.
More obscure -enzo enders like Fiorenzo and Innocenzo are possible sources, too.
A handful of famous men have answered to the name.
First, there’s a minor character in The Godfather. He appears briefly in the 1972 movie, introducing himself as “Enzo, the baker.”
But despite the success of the movie – and two subsequent sequels – Italian names didn’t spike in use.
Instead, the famous figures who parents might remember are very much of the real world variety:
- Nicknamed “The Prince,” Enzo Francescoli played soccer in the 1980s and 90s, becoming one of the best South American footballers of all time.
- Enzo Scifo is another famous soccer player, this time from Belgium.
- And Enzo Zidane is a French soccer player, son of the legendary Zinedine Zidane. In the second case, Enzo’s birth might’ve sparked the name’s popularity in France, amking this a celebrity baby name. Zidane was inspired by Francescoli.
- Record-setting free diver Enzo Maiorca was born in Sicily. His feats inspired the 1988 French film Le Grand Bleu.
- For many years, Italian shoe designer Enzo Angiolini’s designs were widely available in the US. (The brand has since been sold.)
- Welsh-born boxer Enzo Maccarinelli is another notable.
- No question that the most famous figure was Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, the Italian race car driver turned luxury sports car entrepreneur.
We all know that Ferrari is a brand of sports car. Racing fans will know that Scuderia Ferrari is the oldest and most successful Formula One racing team.
Established by Enzo Ferrari, the team first raced Alfa Romeos. By 1947, they were racing Ferrari’s cars, complete with the famous prancing horse symbol.
Ferrari is a legend in the racing world, known as El Commendatore or Il Grande Vecchio.
He remains a household name, decades after his 1988 passing. A new generation met Enzo Ferrari in 2019 movie Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. While Ferrari isn’t the central figure, it’s hard to walk away from the movie not understanding the a little more of Ferrari’s enduring mystique.
BY the NUMBERS
When it comes to popularity, odds are that Enzo’s success as a boy’s name is only partly about famous figures.
The name’s sound gets much of the credit.
It’s an o-ending name. In the early 2000s, as the baby name Enzo started to catch on, choices like Matteo/Mateo, Aldo, Milo, and Nico were trending, too.
We love the letter Z, too, and the twenty-first century has been good to high value Scrabble letters like K, X, and yes, Z.
Enzo combines two powerful trends in just four letters!
In 2003, the baby name Enzo entered the US Top 1000 at #872.
It hasn’t slowed down since, reaching #121 in 2022.
Lorenzo stands at #133, suggesting that there may be more baby Enzos than you’d expect.
Additional boosts came from pop culture.
In the late 1990s, a Canadian animated series followed the adventures of Enzo Matrix and his sister Dot. Titled ReBoot, Netflix rebooted it as a live action series in 2018.
Jersey Shore alum Nicole Polizzi – better known to the world as Snooki – welcomed her first son Lorenzo “Enzo” Dominic LaValle in 2012. (She’s since added daughter Giovanna and son Angelo to her family with husband Jionni LaValle.)
Smash hit supernatural series Vampire Diaries introduced a character called Enzo St. John in season six, debuting in 2014.
Along the way, names like Ezra entered the US Top 100. Mateo and Leo did, too, with many more O-enders on the rise.
The result is a name that feels like an import. It may be accessbile in English, but it’s still Italian. Like Francesca or Aurelia, that lends it some extra style. A bit of Amalfi Coast, a dash of Roman Holiday, all on the back of a Vespa, heading out for gelato.
And yet, it’s effortlessly global, too. Popular across Europe, including Spain, as well as Latin America, Enzo appeals in many languages. In parts of the world as distant as Brazil and Quebec, the baby name Enzo is on the rise.
While it started as a nickname, it’s easy to imagine calling a little Enzo something even more diminutive – Enni or Enzy, maybe?
It’s the perfect name for Luca’s brother, a handsome import that hints at Italian heritage but remains firmly in the American mainstream, too.