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Esposito (Italian pronunciation: [eˈspɔːzito]) is a common Italian surname. It ranks fourth among the most widespread surnames in Italy.[1] Although it is frequent throughout the country, it is especially prevalent in the Campania region and, most specifically, in the Naples area.[2][3]

Etymology and history[edit]

Etymologically, this surname is thought to derive from Latin expositus (Italian esposto, Old Italian or dialect esposito), which is the past participle of the Latin verb exponere ("to place outside", "to expose") and literally means "placed outside", "exposed".[4]

Italian tradition claims that the surname was given to foundlings who were abandoned or given up for adoption and handed over to an orphanage (an Ospizio degli esposti in Italian, literally a "home or hospice of the exposed").[5] They were called espositi because they would get abandoned and "exposed" in a public place. Some orphanages maintained a so-called Ruota degli esposti (English: "Wheel of the exposed") where abandoned children could be placed. After the unification of Italy, laws were introduced forbidding the practice of giving surnames that reflected a child's origins. Crude meaning is bastard child, or out of wedlock.

As a surname, Esposito has produced a number of variants throughout modern Italy, such as D'Esposito, Degli Esposti, Esposti, Esposto, Sposito, etc. Other variants are also found in the Spanish-speaking world, for example Espósito and Expósito.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "I 100 cognomi più diffusi in Italia" (in Italian). Cognomix. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Esposito" (in Italian). Gens. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  4. ^ Ottorino Pianigiani, Vocabolario etimologico della lingua italiana, di Ottorino Pianigiani, Roma-Milano, Società editrice Dante Alighieri di Albrighi, Segati e c., 1907
  5. ^ "Trasformazione dell'Ospizio degli Esposti-Revamp of the Ospizio degli Esposti" (in Italian). Biblioteca Salaborsa. Retrieved 27 April 2010.