AskDefine | Define rial

Dictionary Definition



1 the basic unit of money in Yemen; equal to 100 fils [syn: Yemeni rial]
2 the basic unit of money in Oman [syn: riyal-omani, Omani rial]
3 the basic unit of money in Iran [syn: Iranian rial]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The official currencies of Iran, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia,


  • Arabic: (riyāl)
  • Persian: (riâl)


Extensive Definition

The noun Rial can refer to at least three distinct applications:


Rial and its related variants Riyal and Riel (ريال in Arabic) refer to the currencies of several countries:


Rial refers to a Formula One team, a software name, or other non-personal use:

Family name

Rial refers to a person's surname, family name, or last name (apellido):


This section describes the substantive noun "Rial" when it is used as a surname, family name, or last name (i.e., apellido in Spanish). The surname "Rial" is a very old family name and people with that last name can be found in small numbers in several countries of the western world that use the English language (e.g., Scotland, Canada, The United States) and found in significant numbers in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, namely, Spain, several Caribbean countries, and in several North and South American countries. The surname "Rial" is correctly pronounced in modern English (ref. 1) like the English words "dial" and "vial" with the accent-stress placed on the first vowel of the diphthong "ia" (i.e., the letter "i"). The surname is correctly pronounced in modern Spanish (ref. 2) like the Spanish words "dial" and "vial" where the accent-stress is placed on the final vowel of the diphthong (i.e., the letter "a") which proceeds the final consonant (i.e., the Spanish letter "ele").
Strong speculation indicates that the surname Rial as described here had its origin in the Celtic region of the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman occupation of Spain which occurred from about 140 B.C.E. until about 400 C.E. This Celtic region which is now called Galicia is located in the northwestern territory of European Spain and it was formerly named Gallaecia by the Roman occupiers. Galicia is one of the four Autonomous Regions in Spain and Spanish Celtic roots extend beyond Galicia into the western end of The Asturias (one of the four Autonomous Regions) and also into northeastern Portugal.  

The Rias of Galicia

In the northwestern coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula which face the Atlantic Ocean on the west and northwest and the Sea of Cantábrica on the north are many deep, navigable channels called "rias". A ria (ría in Spanish) is an estuary, often with deep water that provides access to the high seas from inland areas on the coasts of The Asturias, Galicia, and Portugal. These ria regions have been used or occupied for many centuries and from these rias, sailors and fishermen can enter the Atlantic coastal waters. The locations of all the rias on the Iberian Peninsula can be seen on a modern map of Spain and Portugal (ref. 3).

Derivation of the Surname "Rial" in Galicia

The coastal regions of Galicia have always been used by seafaring people and those regions provide great quantities of seafood for the country and for export. From ancient times, the people who worked or went to sea from these rias were called "the people of the ria" or "the ria people", and eventually those people were designated by the single word "rial" which evolved into the permanent family surname of Rial. Thus, the "Rial's" were people who always worked in or were associated with rias. In Galicia, there were and still are several versions of the use of the word ria as applied to the "ria people". One is "los de la ría" (Spanish for the people of the ria) or "os da ria" (Galician for the people of the ria). Another common use of the surname Rial is "O Rial" (meaning "The Rial" in Galician) which is used to designate the place of the Rial parish or Rial clan. From the foregoing, it is strongly believed that the surname Rial has a Celtic origin that came into existence in the Celtic Region of Galicia.

General Distribution of the Surname "Rial" in the Western World

Near the Atlantic coastal area of Galicia between Galicia's capitol of Santiago de Compostela in the north to its southern border with Portugal can be found at least three villages named "Rial" on current maps (ref. 3, op cit) and at least one village named O Rial. Also, the surname Rial can be found of the official list of recognized Galician surnames at Xenealoxia. The distribution of the Rial surname (apellido) in Galicia and in other parts of Spain can also be further found in Xenealoxia (op cit) under "Rial" which indicated approximately 1360 "Rial's" listed in Galicia out of approximately 3850 "Rial's" listed for all of Spain.
Today, the greatest concentration of people with the surname Rial in Spain is found in Galicia in or near the city of Pontevedra which is very near the Ria de Vigo. In 2007, approximately 700 people with the surname Rial could be found in the telephone listings in the white pages of Pontevedra, Galicia. Today, large numbers of former Galicians and their families can be found near the Rio de la Plata region of Argentina and Uruguay with smaller numbers in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, and Brazil, and very few in the countries of Great Britain, The United States, and Canada. There are so many Galician-related people living in the Rio Plata region that ethnic European people are often referred to as Gallegos (meaning Galicians in Spanish), whether their roots are Galician or not.

Rial in the United States of America

The land contained within the The United States of America would have been an unusual destination for early emigration from Galicia because most Galician emigrants desired to emigrate to regions where the Galician or Spanish languages and cultures were well established, like the Rio Plata region of Argentina mentioned above. Recent releases of some United Kingdom genealogy material from Rial genealogy files show that some people with the surname Rial are listed that had lived in the middle 1850's in Scotland and in Northern Ireland as Scots Irish. Some of these Rial's may have emigrated from the lowlands of Scotland or from Ulster county, Northern Ireland, to the USA in the nineteenth century.
In terms of numbers, the surname Rial is currently found to be very rare in the USA. The probability of occurrence of the surname Rial in the USA near the year 2000 was determined as follows. In 1995 there were approximately 1000 listings of the surname Rial in the USA in one compilation of the national white pages. At that time, the USA population was approximately 280 million and assuming that the approximate 1000 listings included an average of four people per listing, a reasonable estimate of Rial's living in the USA would have been 4000. This is a probability of occurrence of people with the surname Rial in the USA to be about 1.4E-5 which means that the surname Rial was or still is extremely rare in the USA. Today, most of the Rial's in the USA are either English speakers with Scottish or Scots-Irish Anglo Celtic first names or are Spanish speakers with Spanish first names. Many people with the Rial surname are often listed in large city telephone directories (e.g., New York City telephone directory white pages).

References for Rial as a Family Name

  1.   Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.   2003.   Springfield, Massachusetts, USA.   pp 344a, 1392.
  2.   Harper-Collins Spanish College Dictionary, Fourth Edition.   2002.   New York, NY.   pp xii.
  3.   Michelin Spain and Portugal Tourist and Motoring Atlas, Twelfth Edition, No. 1460 (spiral).   2005.   Greenville, SC, USA.   pp 2-4, 15.
rial in Arabic: ريال
rial in Czech: Riál
rial in German: Rial
rial in French: Rial
rial in Italian: Rial
rial in Dutch: Rial
rial in Finnish: Rial
rial in Thai: เรียล
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