English: Saint Antony of Padua holding Baby Je...
English: Saint Antony of Padua holding Baby Jesus, Bernardo Strozzi, oil on canvas, circa 1625. Accession number 994-1-7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Luca and Matteo all the rage, can this romantic appellation be far behind?

Thanks to Michelle for suggesting her son’s name, Antonio, as our Baby Name of the Day.

Anthony has ranked in the US Top 100 nearly every year since 1880, and has recently occupied the Top Ten, falling slightly to #11 in 2011.  He’s among the most enduring names for boys.

In fact, he’s really quite ancient.  Mark Antony lived in the last century BC.  A Roman general who held power in the waning days of the Republic, he came from a leading family and his descendants would go on to hold positions of power for centuries more.  Though Mark Antony ended his life in defeat – he and Cleopatra took their own lives after the future emperor Augustus rose to power.  Known as Marcus Antonius in his time, some say that the family was descended from Anton, a child of the strong man of the gods, Heracles.  That’s questionable.  It seems more likely that Antonius was Etruscan in origin, and possibly related to the name of their sky god, Ani.

There’s no secret to the reason he has remained in use: saints, and plenty of ’em.

Saint Antony the Great is sometimes called the father of monasticism.  Tales of his struggles against the temptation in the desert are a rich source of inspiration for art.

Then came Fernando Martins de Bulhões.  Born to a wealthy family in Lisbon, he became an early member of the Franciscans and took the name Antony after the ancient saint.  His teachings made him a doctor of the church.  We know him as Saint Anthony of Padua – that’s him in the painting.

Little wonder, then, that the name is well known throughout the Christian world, as Anton, Antal, Antonino, Antoine, Antonin, and, of course, Anthony and Antonio.  (A quick word on the addition of the letter h – in English, we associated Antonio with the Greek anthos – flower – and thus the change to the spelling.)

If Anthony is a classic, Antonio is a wearable exotic.  He’s ranked in the US Top 1000 every year since 1880, though like Anthony, he’s fallen slightly in recent years.  A former Top 100 choice, he stood at #118 in 2011.

Famous Antonios are plentiful.  Beyond the modern athletes and politicians, there’s composer Antonio Vivaldi and many a character from Shakespeare, including The Merchant of Venice’s (mostly) admirable main character.

Short form Tony makes him an every-guy kind of name, but Antonio on his own is dashing.  In our days of longer names for boys, Antonio fits right in with Leonardo and Jeremiah and even Joshua.  If you’re looking for a classic with a twist, Antonio could be a great choice.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I rather like Antonio, although I do like Anthony better. Antonio is lovely, and would work well with most surnames. I would rather meet an Anthony or Antonio than another Aidan/Aiden/Ayden, etc.

  2. Antonio – nice, steady, reliable kind of guy. My brother was born close to June 13th, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. That was enough to seal the deal for my mom. They combined it with Dad’s first name and up to about age 8, my mom routinely called him by the double name. Now he’s usually Tony / Toño.

    It’s a name that works really well at any age.

  3. I adore Anton & Antonin, but Antonio sounds utterly ridiculous with the Scottish surname I’ve got.

    Josie has an Antonio in her second grade class. He’s clearly Brasilian, and she says he likes her but she doesn’t like him. *sigh*. (She’ll be 8 on Sunday). I think he’s a nice kid but I’ve only met him in passing, he & Josie do not play together (unlike Ryan who lives up the street & is over every time I turn around).

    While Anton (or Antonin) are more likely to be Josie’s little brother, (should she ever get one) Antonio’s got panache to spare! 😀

  4. Antonio is the name of the eight year old boy who proposed to me last year!! It’s such a smooth, sophisticated sounding name. Only a little Antonio could get away with that. I politely declined the offer, of course!

  5. I was going to comment that Antonio needs an Italian or Spanish surname, but then I remembered my cousin is Anthony Polishsurname. That combination seems to have suited my cousin just fine and Antonio Brown sounds just as fitting as Antonio Banderas… so I’ve changed my mind. Anton (it made our short list) is my favorite, but Antonio is really sharp.

  6. Its a nice enough name. He has lots of history and his Latin form is kind of sexy.

  7. I like Antonio, though it’s among my list of names that only sound right to my ear with certain surnames. I’m afraid it just doesn’t cut it with my husband’s Dutch/German name. A friend of mine has twins named Analise and Antonio, which sound divine with the Spanish surname they’ve inherited from their father.