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French surnames

By | 15.05.2020

This article describes the conventions for using people's names in Franceincluding the norms of custom and practice, as well as the legal aspects. SinceFrench administration does not use the term mademoiselle anymore for its documents in favour of madame regardless of the status and the age of the woman addressed. This practice ceased after the French Revolution.

A traditional address to a crowd of people is Mesdames, Messieurs or Mesdames, Mesdemoiselles, Messieurs —whose order of words represents decreasing degrees of respect. An informal variant is Messieurs-Dames ; it is considered as ill-mannered by purists. It is normally impolite to address people by their given names unless one is a family member, a friend or a close colleague of comparable hierarchic importance. One also does not address people by their last name only unless in a work environment.

Also, contrary to English or German usage, it is considered impolite to address someone as monsieur X when talking to that person: a mere monsieur should be used, monsieur X being reserved for talking about M. X to another person. By contrast, in colloquial usage the family names of personalities are used alone.

Formally, a married or widowed woman can be called by the given name of her husband madame given name of husband family name or madame veuve given name of husband family name ; this is now slightly out of fashion, except on formal invitation cards in France, on a formal invitation card, the traditional formula is always a variant of "Madame Jean Dupont recevra The traditional use of the first name of the woman's husband is now felt in this context as a way to include the husband as equally inviting alongside his wife, while keeping the tradition of reception being formally held by the wife.

In the workplace or in academic establishments, particularly in a male-dominated environment, it is quite common to refer to male employees by their family name only, but to use madame or mademoiselle before the names of female employees.

A military officer is addressed by his rank and under no circumstance by monsieurbut a group of officers can be addressed by plural messieurs. Male officers of the Armythe Gendarmerie and the Air Force are addressed as Mon [rank] by inferior ranks and deferential civilians.

Superiors address their inferiors by their rank only, never with Mon. French people have one, two or more given names first names. One of them nowadays almost always the first, in the past often the last is used in daily life but someone can also choose a usage name that was not given ; the others are solely for official documents, such as passport, birth, death and marriage certificates. Middle names in the English sense do not exist, and middle initials are never used for second or further given names.

Typically, second and further given names may be somewhat old-fashioned, given in honour of the child's grandparents etc.

french surnames

As with English, however, a person may choose to use any one or several of their names, relegating the unused names to the birth certificate. Although using more than one name is nowadays out of fashion, using two or even three of the given names as a compound name was fairly common until the early 20th century. Traditionally, most people were given names from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.Coming from the medieval French word " surnom ," which translates as "above-or-over name," descriptive surnames names trace their use in France back to the 11th century when it first became necessary to add a second name to distinguish between individuals with the same given name.

Even so, the use of surnames did not become common for several centuries. Patronymic surnames are based on the father's name and matronymic surnames on the mother's name. The mother's name was usually used only when the father's name was unknown. Patronymic and matronymic surnames in France were formed in several different ways.

The majority of French patronymic and matronymic surnames have no identifying prefix and are direct derivations of the parent's given name, such as August Landry, for "August, son of Landri," or Tomas Robert, for "Tomas, son of Robert. Based on a unique quality of the individual, descriptive French surnames were often developed from nicknames or pet names, such as Jacques Legrand, for Jacques, "the Big.

french surnames

The prefixes "de," "des," "du," and "le" which translate to "of" are also used in French geographical surnames. In some areas of France, a second surname may have been adopted to distinguish between different branches of the same family, especially when the families remained in the same town for generations.

These alias surnames can often be found preceded by the word " dit. This practice was most common in France among soldiers and sailors. As so many French surnames are derived from first names, it's important to know that many common French first names have Germanic origins. However, these names became part of French culture as a result of German invasions, so having a name with Germanic origins does not necessarily mean you have German ancestors.

Beginning inthose who wished to change their names were required to get permission from the King. Dictionnaire des changements de noms de —" Dictionary of changed names from to Paris: Librairie Francaise, Share Flipboard Email. Kimberly Powell. Genealogy Expert. Updated January 20, When the Anglo- Normans began to settle in Irelandthey brought the tradition of local surnames to an island which already had a Gaelic naming system of hereditary surnames established. Unlike the Irish, the Anglo- Normans had an affinity for local surnames.

Local surnames, such as French, were formed from the names of a place or a geographical landmark where the person lived, held land, or was born. The earliest Anglo-Norman surnames of this type came from Normandybut as the Normans moved, they created names that referred to where they actually resided.

Therefore, English places were used for names when the Normans lived in Englandand then Irish places after these particular Anglo- Normans had been settled in Ireland for some time. Originally, these place names were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French. However, this type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname, if the place name began with a vowel, or it was eliminated entirely.

The French family originally lived near an ash tree. The surname French was originally de Freynes and was originally derived from the word "fraxinus," which means an "ash tree. The name is sometimes spelled with a beginning of "Ff.

french surnames

The surname French was first found in Devon. They were descendants of Theophilus de France who accompanied William the Conqueror into England in This web page shows only a small excerpt of our French research. Another 86 words 6 lines of text covering the years,,, and are included under the topic Early French History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded, which explains the various name spelling variations of the name French that were encountered when researching that surname.

Category:French noble families

The many spelling variations included: French, Frenche and others. Another 66 words 5 lines of text are included under the topic Early French Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Digital Products on Checkout, all other products filled in 1 business day. Some of the first settlers of this family name were: French Settlers in United States in the 17th Century Alice French who settled in Salem, Massachusetts in Thomas French, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of aboutpassengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

Christopher in Elizabeth French, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in French Settlers in United States in the 18th Century Philip French, who landed in North Carolina in Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of aboutpassengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

French Settlers in United States in the 19th Century Shepherd French, aged 45, who arrived in New York, NY in Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of aboutpassengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

Some of the first settlers of this family name were: French Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century Mr. Albert French U.

Genealogical Publishing Co. Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, Charity French U. James French U. Jeremiah French Sr.

Common French Last Names & Their Meanings, Part I

Jeremiah French Jr. Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Edward French, b.France is one of the oldest countries in the world, and French last names reflect this long history.

Tracing your last name can help you uncover a rich and detailed family history. France may have distinguished itself as revolutionary and pioneering with its ancient legacy, but it was following the trend of the times when it came to naming conventions. The Roman Empire enforced a multiple-name system: first the given name, second the name of the family association that existed within the empire, and finally the nickname, which with time became the surname.

Julius Caesar brought this naming code with him when he conquered Gaul, which encompassed the territory of current France and surrounding countries. Increased population, trading, and travel rendered the single-name model impractical and obsolete.

In the 11 th century, people started changing their names by adding a last name to differentiate between people with the same given name. InKing Louis XI banned this liberty of people being free to add any last name they wanted, forcing all name changes to be vetted by royal decree. King Francois was the next ruler to make big changes in French naming law. As is the case with nomenclature across the board, French names provide a record of demographic patterns and historical events.

Like newspaper clippings, names are witnesses to the waves of colonization, invasion, migration, and more. Old French last names can be divided into categories that reflect these different moments in history. Although from different origins, common French last names can have religious, ethnic, or linguistic roots. Latin names testify to the Romans ruling Gaul, before the country later got its name, Francia, Kingdom of the Franks.

Other names come from neighboring regions that were disputed and subsumed as late as the 20th century, like the Germanic ones of Alsace and Lorraine. From Corsican to Catalan, and Basque to Provencal, France brings together one of the most diverse name banks in the world. That being said, some of the most utilized names are not specific to locale — rather, they deal with a trade. Here are the most common French last names and their meanings.

French names have spread as far as the empires and kingdoms of France have reached — and more. Newspapers hold the key to the untold stories of our ancestors. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. By Sarah Stevens March 8, Photo: Paris, France. Credit: Yann Caradec; Wikimedia Commons. The History of French Names France may have distinguished itself as revolutionary and pioneering with its ancient legacy, but it was following the trend of the times when it came to naming conventions. The Name as Witness As is the case with nomenclature across the board, French names provide a record of demographic patterns and historical events.

Early reports of the name situate its birthplace in southeastern France. The patron saint of cooks and comedians, Saint Laurent embodies victory over fear.At the moment, listings for the most common names are unavailable for Albania. However the most common names include the following:. The forty-one most common surnames in Austria as published in are shown below beside the approximate percentage of the Austrian population sharing each surname. Statistics available for Belarusian capital Minsk only: [3].

The Flemish region has a Dutch-language tradition, while the Walloon region has a French-language tradition. These different linguistic backgrounds are reflected in differing frequencies of surnames, as shown in the table below. The following names are the most common names for Serbs from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Feminized names included m. Dimitrov — f. Figures are from and provided by the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute. Feminized names are included m.

Figures are from and provided by Czech Ministry of the Interior. Data from The 20 most common surnames in the Faroe Islands as published in are shown below beside the number of people of the Faroese population sharing each surname. The suffix -nen is an adjective ending. The majority of Greek names are patronymic. The patronymic suffix varies between dialects; thus Giannidis, Giannakos, Giannatos, Giannopoulos, Giannelis, Giannioglou all mean "son of Giannis.

See also Icelandic names. The 20 most common surnames in the Iceland as published in are shown below beside the number of people of the Icelandic population sharing each surname. The prevalence of some of these names is the result of more than one distinct Irish language names being represented by the same anglicised version. From Mappa dei Cognomi website. These statistics are based on the Kosovo Agency of Statistics report on names and surnames in Kosovo, which took place in The most recent complete count of surnames in the Netherlands is based on the September county registrations.Simply start with yourself and we'll do the searching for you.

View Census Data for French. View Census data for French Data not to scale. There arecensus records available for the last name French.

Like a window into their day-to-day life, French census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more. There are 74, immigration records available for the last name French. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There aremilitary records available for the last name French. For the veterans among your French ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions. Between andin the United States, French life expectancy was at its lowest point inand highest in The average life expectancy for French in was 43, and 74 in Browse profiles of historical people with the French last name.

This page needs Javascript enabled in order to work properly. Click here for instructions on how to enable it in your browse. French Name Meaning ethnic name for someone from France, Middle English frensche, or in some cases perhaps a nickname for someone who adopted French airs.

Ready to discover your family story? First Name. Last Name. Gender Male. You can see how French families moved over time by selecting different census years. The most French families were found in the USA in In there were French families living in New York. New York had the highest population of French families in Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the French surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

England United States Canada. Top Male Occupations in Farmer. Top Female Occupations in Housewife. Census Record There arecensus records available for the last name French. Search 's US census records for French. Passenger List There are 74, immigration records available for the last name French. View all French immigration records. Draft Card There aremilitary records available for the last name French.If you have French ancestry, you will want to know a little more about French surnames and their history.

This information will let you know more about your French ancestors than you imagined. Click Here to listen to the weekly podcast. If you have French ancestry, you are in good company. Hundreds of millions of people around the world can claim descent from this ancient nation. Like most countries in Europe, the French people did not start using surnames until the Middle Ages.

french surnames

Before that, the villages were small, and most everyone in one knew everyone else. There was not much mobility, either. People tended to live in the same village for their entire lives, and it was that way for generations. Surnames only began to be used when some villages grew into cities, and people started moving from the village of their ancestors in search of more farmland, more fertile soil, or new job opportunities. Then, they needed something other than a first name that they may have shared with several other local people to distinguish themselves.

Thus, surnames were born. Here are the four most common categories of French surnames, and what they mean. This information can help you a lot in your genealogical quest for your French ancestors. This was the first type of surname used in most European countries, and France was no exception. The first use of surnames was recorded in France in about the A. When it was necessary to distinguish two or more people with the same first name, it was usually done by referencing the name of their father or mother.

Charles, son of Louis, or Anne, daughter of Charlotte, would be common ways of referring to people.

Over time, the names of the parents became the surnames of individuals. For a while, surnames changed in a family line with every generation, as different first names produced offspring with surnames based on those new first names.

It was only after several centuries that a permanent surname based on the first name of some original, long-ago ancestor became the standard way of using surnames based on parent names. The second most common type of surname was one based on the occupation of an individual. If a person did not want to be associated with their parent or family if they were in hiding or establishing a new identity, or if they just wanted to bring more business to their doors by being intimately associated with their profession, then using their profession as a surname made sense.

Telling someone to go see Jacques the baker for the best bread in town eventually became Jacques Fournier the French word for baker. Since professions were commonly handed down through generations of families in the Middle Ages, the occupational surname had a good chance of gradually becoming the permanent surname of a family.

There were times when a family surname or occupational surname did not do a person justice. There were people in villages, and later, cities, who had such distinguishing features that those features were the way other people usually referred to them.


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