A classic Hungarian male name that strikes a tone of fear and historical curiosity for the rest of Europe, the meaning and actual origins of the name have been long debated.
Among the many possible derivations that have been suggested are:
- From an old Turkic source meaning “big river.”
- From an old Turkic composition, being composed of the elements, at meaning “horse”, and tilla meaning, “arrow.”
- From a Gothic, (Germanic source), meaning “little father”, being a derivative of the Gothic word atta (father), with the Latin diminutive suffix –ila, added
- From a Hunnic source, avithohol, meaning “bred by a deer” or “weened by a deer.”
Many sources believe that the true form of the name has been lost to history, as it may have been a misinterpretation or mistranslation of another name that the Latin speaking chroniclers wrote wrong.
In Hungary, the designated name-day is January 7, and the name is occasionally used in Italy.