LeMonjello IS a Real Name! So Is Orangejello!

There’s a famous apocryphal name story that goes around, that some woman named her kids Lemonjello and Orangejello. Heh.

Ah, but apparently that’s just the way we Anglos hear it. Monjelo or Monjolo is the actual Spanish surname name, which gets accessorized into LeMonjelo. There are Monjelo Islands in Uruguay, for instance, and a place called Monjolo in Madeira. I won’t hazard a derivation, because Spanish placename stuff can be very hard to guess (I blame the Visigoths); but it’s probably Mt. Something. Here’s a young gentleman named LeMonjelo Spinks.

This placename possibly led to some similar Italian surnames, mostly from the Milan area: Limongello and Lemangelo (rare); Mongello, Mongiello, Mangello, and Mongelli (not too uncommon), and the clan of the seventies Italian-American singer Peter Lemongello, who appeared in The Godfather and ran a national TV ad campaign to sell his records, becoming the first singer to sell a million records on TV. “Li” is another particle here, I suspect, as in “licorne” — the horn, aka “unicorn”.

As for the other, it’s not Orangejello at all. It’s spelled Horangelo or Orangelo, meaning “Hour of the Angelus”! (The Angelus is a Catholic prayer which is said three times a day.) It’s a rare Italian name as well as a Hispanic one, and probably was originally given to babies who popped out while the Angelus bell was ringing and everyone was praying — drama, no? Right now, there’s some kind of Venezuelan soccer player running around named Horangelo Varela, for example, and there was a 1930′s Italian guy named Horangelo Petruccio over in New Jersey.

In your face, Snopes!!

So to sum up: These could be and are Hispanic names. But it’s most plausible to think that an Italian family might name their kids Lemongello or Orangelo (avoiding the Hor- of the original spelling, for perfectly obvious reasons). Orangelo might also have come into black families through ancestors or acquaintances from the Caribbean or Hispanic countries. Anyway, there’s nothing to mock in these perfectly good names.

Whether or not those names were ever given together by any family is beyond the bounds of this study, but they are definitely real names. But it’s possible that, even if the original story of both names together was apocryphal, that people might have been inspired to name their kids both names by the story!

Search of the US Social Security Death Index:
43 people with the last name Lemongello.
22 people with the last name Limongello.
3 people with the first name Orangelo.
Nobody dead yet named Horangelo. :)

UPDATE: Well, pooh. I have just been duplicating this fellow’s work.

UPDATE: I have added “Limongello” references, thanks to Mike in the combox. Also, the anime Vandread apparently has a character named Barnette Orangelo. She’s the green-haired one. Also, etymology of “Mongello” from ancestry.com.

UPDATE: “Limoncello” is apparently a surname as well as a drink. Who knew? So now we have another data point, thanks to the wonderful combox folks! There are five Limoncello family members in the Chicago area, and an Illinois officer from WWII, buried in Manila, who also bore that name. Some of the other surname spellings we’ve found may derive from this name. But the Italian-Americans spelling their last names “Limongello” and “Lemongello” vastly outnumber the “Limoncello” clan, almost a hundred to one. That’s just the way it goes when surnames hit America. :)

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “LeMonjello IS a Real Name! So Is Orangejello!

  1. Limongello was a very common name in the Sicilian parish where I grew up.

  2. Lindsay

    This is still a far cry from “My aunt is works as a secretary at the friend of the court and she saw paper work for twin boys named Lemonjello and Orangejello.” And every other version of this story we have friend.

  3. AllGreen

    I used to work at a records section in Lousiana and regularly filed the records for these children.

    • Dawn

      It is accurate…I worked in ER Admiting in Louisiana and saw the twins name come across after they were born

      • I live in Lake Charles, LA and grew up with hearing the birthday announcements on the local news channel. Without fail, each year, there were birthday wishes for Orangejello and Lemonjello. I know they had a last name, but I don’t remember it.

        My Daddy said they had gone to school with a man that was about his age . . .

        I don’t doubt it.

    • I live in Lake Charles, LA and grew up with hearing the birthday announcements on the local news channel. Without fail, each year, there were birthday wishes for Orangejello and Lemonjello. I know they had a last name, but I don’t remember it.

      My Daddy said they had gone to school with a man that was about his age . . .

      I don’t doubt it.

  4. alfie

    The twin boys names are Lemonjello and Orangello, the two choices of desserts on the hospital menu the day they were born (Lemon Jello and Orange Jello). They DO exist. I know from a nurse in the OB/GYN ward of the hospital in Georgia where they were born, and a secretary at the private school in Georgia they attended.

  5. Jett

    My grandma taught oragejello and lemonjello in school at bloom elementary. i use that name as my spanish name

  6. Meagan

    There were two guys at my highschool, Dutch Fork High School, named Orangelo and Lemongelo. I never met them but I saw them in my year book… which I am not looking for so I can see their last name. Either way, I alteast know the highschool they went to :/

  7. Luigi

    Dear Alien in this world,

    I am writing from Italy and I decided to post after reading your argumentation about the possible origin of the name Lemonjello.

    There is no surname in the Milan area that even get close to Limongello or Lemangelo or Mongello or Mongelli.
    You can check yourself through the italian white pages: http://www.paginebianche.it or better you can go through the Italian surname database http://www.gens.labo.net/it/cognomi
    So why you make strong statement without even the smallest clue?

    I think even the american singer you are talking about Peter Lemongello had his name mis-spelled as it happened to the majority of italian people who migrated to the US. Indeed the name Lemongello is not Italian is just a misunderstanding of Limoncello, that is absolutely not a surname but is a name of a liquor made with lemon. The transformation to Lemonjello is because some retarded american (as it always happens) wrote down the name from how it was pronounced.

    Lemongello is the way americans pronounce “Limoncello” that at this time is the hippest drink for Americans who spend their expensive vacations in Capri, where you can buy Limoncello for 20 euros a bottle. Certainly you don’t belong to this category as at this time you had wrote a completely different article.

    Next time before writing something you are not sure about listen to me don’t do it. You will save a very brutta figura.

    • If I worried about what kind of figura I cut in the world, would I blog? :)

      Those are the search results I got when I went looking for possible spellings. People spelled their names with the spellings I give, and there were placenames spelled the way I note. If you don’t believe my results, I don’t know how I’m going to convince you.

      That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if English speakers do mispronounce “limoncello”, or if limoncello makers bore such a surname; but given how many -cello surnames we have in this country, why would only “Limoncello” be misspelled? Interesting. I will use that as a search term and see what comes up.

      • Okay… I found an American from Illinois, a 1st Lieutenant who died March 7th, 1945 and was buried in Manila, and his last name was “Limoncello”. Joseph R. Limoncello. There also seem to be at least ten living Limoncellos in the Anglosphere, although it’s really hard to get rid of all the beverage search results coming up!

        So… this would suggest an occupational surname, and then sometimes in the US it might be used as a first name. It is possible that my other search results were misspellings or alternate spellings of the Limoncello name. But there are only 5 people with the last name Limoncello in the US, whereas there’s almost a hundred Lemongello family members. Welcome to America, where surnames change…. :)

        The difficulty is that it wouldn’t be a very good baptismal name in that case; but it would certainly fit the common Southern and/or African-American pattern of naming kids after the last name of the mother’s relatives or someone else in the family.

        And it still does make it a real name, not a made-up one; and it’s not just a name out of urban legend.

  8. We now have a reporter with the last name Mongillo on a TV station around here. :)

  9. William Giuliano

    Those will the names of my two new puppies, only I’ll probably end up calling them Lemmy and Orry.

  10. I have now spoken to someone with the euphonious first name of Horangelo. She was a very nice lady.

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