The Maltese surname Apap derives from "De Apapis", and the family crest features bees. Family lore tells that the surname originates from a person who kept bees.

In Latin, Apis is bee, and the most likely version of the word that yielded Apapis is "apibus", the ablative or dative case plural meaning "from the bees".

However, I am struggling to figure out when the shift could have occurred as the Maltese language doesn't descend directly from Latin, but rather Siculo-Arabic, hence it seems hard to see how the surname could have "morphed" into its current form in Malta itself, but rather in Italy or France and been brought over to Malta in the Apapis form.

Could someone with more knowledge of Maltese history or Romance language morphology give a suggestion?


Here is a genealogy source that shows the surname morphing from Apapis to Apap through the records:


Here is a source for the family crest showing bees (Apis/Ape):

enter image description here

  • 5
    It would be sweet if you inserted the sources that led to your current findings in your question, so that others who might want to dig deeper don't need to google everything you've found so far. Oct 17, 2019 at 17:47
  • 4
    Related question by OP. Oct 17, 2019 at 17:51
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    Can you add something to the question acknowledging the previous question on this same subject you asked (see Denis' link in the comments above), and particularly what about the answer you accepted doesn't also answer this question? To my untrained eye, it seems to answer this "when" question about as well as can be hoped (sometime btwn 1480 and 1553).
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 17, 2019 at 18:07
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    Maltese isn't exclusively of Arabic origin --WP sez "half of the vocabulary is derived from standard Italian and Sicilian" -- so I would look there for intermediate forms of the name. Oct 17, 2019 at 18:20
  • 2
    @Charlie It seems to me the evidence leans towards the Greek root for the surname, as indicated in the answers to your other questions. Another bit of evidence that points to Greek is that St. George's Basilica, where the Reverend Lorenzo de Apapis is known from, originated during the Byzantine period, until 1575, the liturgy in St George's parish church was celebrated in the Byzantine Rite rather than the Latin Rite. Another Greek connection.
    – justCal
    Oct 20, 2019 at 12:25


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