Italian: from the personal name Vito, Latin Vitus, from vita ‘life’. Compare Vita. The name was popular in the Middle Ages as the result of the cult of an early Christian martyr in southern Italy, about whom very little is known. He was regarded as a patron against epilepsy and the nervous tremor named after him, ‘St. Vitus's dance’. His cult spread into Germany and thence through Eastern Europe, where the name was reinforced by native Slavic names such as Vitoslav and Vitomír, with a first element derived from Old Slavic vitati ‘inhabit’ or ‘welcome’. It may also derive in part from the Lombardic name Wido or Frankish Wit(t)o (see Guido).