The cultural significance of the surname Sinatra

The Cultural Significance of the Surname Sinatra

The cultural significance of a surname goes beyond just being a label that distinguish us from others. It is a part of our identity, our family history and can even carry a certain legacy. One of the most iconic surnames of the 20th century is Sinatra. The name is associated with one of the most influential singers of his time, Frank Sinatra. However, the name holds a deeper cultural significance that goes beyond the personal glory of the artist. In this article, we dive deep into the history, origin, meaning, and cultural impact of the surname Sinatra.

History of the Sinatra Surname

The Sinatra surname traces its origin back to Italy. The name derives from the Latin name "Sinitra" or "Sinister" which means left-handed. It is believed that the surname was given to people who were left-handed as being left-handed was once considered a bad thing and associated with evil spirits. Over time, the surname evolved into Sinatra.

The earliest records of the Sinatra surname can be traced back to the 14th century in the Italian regions of Tuscany and Liguria. The name was first documented in the Tuscan city of Lucca, where a noble family by the name of Sinatra lived. The family was known for their political power and wealth. The Sinatras of Lucca owned several properties, including a palace that is still standing today.

In the 19th century, many Italians left their homes and emigrated to other countries in search of better opportunities, and the Sinatras were no exception. Many members of the family migrated to the United States, settling in New York and New Jersey.

Frank Sinatra and the Sinatra Legacy

The most famous member of the Sinatra family is undoubtedly Francis Albert Sinatra, better known as Frank Sinatra. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1915, Frank Sinatra became one of the most iconic singers of his time. He was not only known for his smooth voice, but also for his acting skills and his involvement in politics and social causes. Sinatra became a cultural icon and left a mark on the entertainment industry that is still felt today.

Frank Sinatra's rise to fame coincided with a cultural shift in America. During the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was experiencing a wave of optimism and prosperity. This was the time of the "American Dream" – a belief that anyone could achieve success through hard work and determination. Sinatra embodied this ideal. He was a self-made man who had grown up in a working-class family and had made it to the top through his talent and perseverance.

Sinatra's success inspired many Italian Americans to take pride in their heritage. He was one of the first Italian American celebrities to achieve mainstream success, paving the way for other Italian American entertainers such as Tony Bennett and Dean Martin. Sinatra's legacy lives on not only in his music but also in his philanthropy. He was known for his support of social causes such as civil rights and education.

The Cultural Impact of the Sinatra Surname

The Sinatra surname has had a significant impact on popular culture. The name has become synonymous with the entertainment industry, especially music. It has also become a symbol of Italian American culture.

The Sinatra name has been used in many movies, TV shows, and songs. One of the most famous examples is in the movie "The Godfather." In the movie, the character Johnny Fontane, who is a singer, is based on Frank Sinatra. The character's name is changed to "Johnny Fontane" to avoid any legal issues. The film's soundtrack features several Sinatra songs, including "Strangers in the Night" and "All or Nothing At All."

The name "Sinatra" has also been used in several song titles. For example, in the 1980s, Tom Waits wrote a song called "Frank's Wild Years" that contains the line "Frank settled down in the Valley and he hung his wild years on a nail that he drove through his wife's forehead."


In conclusion, the Sinatra surname holds a special place in American culture. Its association with one of the most iconic singers of the 20th century has made it a symbol of success, hard work, and determination. The name has become a part of American popular culture and has been used in movies, TV shows, and songs. The Sinatra legacy extends beyond the entertainment industry, inspiring Italian Americans to take pride in their heritage and contributing to social causes. The Sinatra surname continues to hold cultural significance and will always be associated with an era of optimism and prosperity in American history.