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Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English, French, Spanish, and Dutch: from Middle English, Old French cardinal ‘cardinal’, the church dignitary (Latin cardinalis, originally an adjective meaning ‘crucial’). The surname may have denoted a servant who worked in a cardinal’s household, but was probably more often bestowed as a nickname on someone who habitually dressed in red or who had played the part of a cardinal in a pageant, or on one who acted in a lordly and patronizing manner, like a prince of the Church.
  2. A bearer of the name, of unknown origin, is documented in Montreal by 1666.
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