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French Surname Origins & Genealogy Resources



French surnames were first used in the 11th century to distinguish people who had the same given name; however, surnames didn't become common for all until centuries later.

As in other countries, French surnames developed from four major sources:
  • Patronymic Surnames - A surname based on the first name of the father is the most common category of French last names. A French prefix or suffix is sometimes added to a given name to form a patronymic surname.

    • French suffixes such as (eau), meaning 'son of', is attached to the end of given name:
      • -eau Moreau - son of the Moor.


    • French Prefixes, meaning 'son of', is attached to the beginning of a given name:

    • Most French patronymic surnames do not have a prefix or suffix:


  • Occupational Surnames - A surname based on the person's job or trade is also common.

  • Descriptive Surnames - A surname based on the person or personality, usually a nickname.
    • Brun - A person with brown hair or complexion
    • Petit - A small person or a junior


  • Geographical Surnames - A surname based on a person's residence or former residence



Some of the more common French surnames are:

Arceneau

Aucoin

Babin

Babineaux

Benoit

Bergeron

Bernard

Bertrand

Bessette

Blanc

Blanchard

Bonnet

Boucher

Bourg

Bourque

Boutin

Bouvier

Braud

Broussard

Brun

Chevalier

David

Depaul

Desmarais

Disney

Dubois

Dupont

Dupuis

Durand

Fortescue

Fournier

Garnier

Gaudet

Gillet / Gillette

Girard

Gravois

Grosvenor

Lambert

Landry

Laroche

Laurent

Lefevre

Leroy

Leveque

Lisle

Martin

Michel

Molyneux

Moreau

Morel

Neville

Pelletier

Petit

Prideux

Renard

Richard

Robert

Rousseau

Roux

Rufus

Simon

Thomas


See also: French Genealogy Words


To find additional surnames, choose the first letter of surname:
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