Updated June 9, 2019

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Family name origins & meanings

  • Italian : nickname for a stubborn, malicious, or treacherous person, from malus (feminine mala) ‘bad’, ‘evil’ + testa ‘head’.
  • The Malatestas were a noble family who ruled Rimini during the Italian Renaissance. Sigismondo Malatesta (1417–68) is often regarded as the prototype of an Italian Renaissance prince. Ercole Malatesta was a soldier in the service of Venice in the 16th century; in 1582, as commander of the guard in Rethimno (Crete), he led an attack on the Turks in the Peloponnese.