Top 10 origins of the most common surnames, yours may be there

Where does your family name come from ? We warn you right away, we are not going to do case by case, so we decided to start with the 10 most common in France, the Martins, the Bernards, the Dubois. Sometimes the etymology is a little disappointing (yes, it’s you we’re looking at the Petits), on the other hand, we’re often surprised by the somewhat folkloric origin of the Bernards or the Roberts who still provide the show.


The surname most worn by the French, Martin has become by force of fact one of the most banal surnames (NAN ON DIT PAS “BANAUX”). Yet let all the ladies and gentlemen Martin raise their heads: their surnames all come from Mars. The God Mars. Martinus means “from Mars” and no one can take that away from you.

Top 10 origins of the most common surnames yours may

2. Dubois

Third most popular surname in France, Dubois is a little less friendly etymologically than Martin and Bernard. You don’t have to look very far since it was originally a family living in or on the edge of a wood. Yes, you can’t win every time.


You have to go back a long way to find the origin of the name (and first name) Thomas, passing through Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew to arrive at the word “twin”. Not as powerful as Bertrand’s strong bear but it gets worse, you could call yourself Dubois. Or even worse you could call yourself Thomas Thomas. Already it’s not fun to be called Thomas, can you imagine the breed?


You are Mrs. or Mr. Robert, and you have never said to yourself “Hey, it’s really classy to be called Robert” and you’re wrong. As for Bertrand, it is on the Germanic side that we must turn. The element “hrod” which we find in Rodolphe for example, and which means “glory”, and “beraht” which we find in Norbert or Albert and which means “brilliant, illustrious”. So you see, Madame and Monsieur Brillante Gloire, you can seriously tell it to yourself.


Notice to all the Richards, we are going to meet again across the Rhine and talk about proto-Germany. We therefore have “rikô” and “harduz”, respectively “commander” and “fort”. You are therefore a real leader, a powerful leader, and I can assure you that you will not sign your checks the same way from today. Although I don’t yet know who signs checks these days, but that’s another story.

6. Small

So we’re going to tell you everything but you’re going to find it disappointing: Petit comes from the Gaulish “pitittos” which itself came from the Latin “pitinnus” and/or “petilus” which means “small”, “thin” or “hail”. So we imagine that one of your ancestors was a small model, and it won’t look any further.


There again, your name is Bernard like 2/3 of the guys in your town and you feel a little crummy. “Ehhh it’s M’sieur Bernard, the eco teacher who stinks of his mouth!” “. But no my old man, “Bernard” you must wear it high and proud, since it derives from two proto-Germanic terms (the language originally spoken by all Germanic peoples). First “berô” which means “bear”, and “harduz” which means “strong”. That’s it Bernards, you are big powerful bears.

8. Durand

Dupont only comes 26th in the list of the most common surnames but his friend Durand is there in the top 10 and that’s the main thing. Some speak of a Germanic origin but they are in the minority. We rather think of an evolution of Durant, an old baptismal name derived from enduring. The Durands are therefore obstinate, is that clear?

9. Leroy

Leroy comes from the King, of course, but don’t get carried away, that doesn’t mean you’re descended from a monarch. It is assumed that it may be people who exploited the King’s property (including his land). So don’t get carried away, drop your scepter and put your crown away.

10. Moreau

At Topito, we know the Moreaus well. Moreau is a variant of Morel, it comes to us from Maurellus, a Latin first name, and everyone agrees that it descends from “Maure”. The Moreaus were therefore those “who had dark skin”, the guys who were a little tanned.

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