Tag Archives: names

Surname Meanings

Having surnames or family names is a relatively new concept. In the days of our ancestors, people knew each other well enough that they were easily identified by their given names alone. Only once populations grew, and families started moving farther apart did the idea of the family name take hold and become common custom.

Originally, surnames came from descriptions of that person, or were terms that identified them by occupation, their birthplace or other types of features. They also sometimes were used to indicate that an individual as the “son of” someone else. This convention was used the most often in Scandinavian and Celtic regions, and is still used today. Sven Bjornson was really just Sven, the son of Bjorn. (more…)

26 Dec 2012

French Dit Names

Are you doing any French genealogy work? Have you found some mysterious relatives who seem to have 2 last names with the little word “dit” tucked in the middle? Well, now you can figure out what that means.

In my own family, I have a woman named Emilie Montpellier dit Beaulieu and she makes a good example to work with. First of all, the word “dit” means “called” (at least in this context) and it’s pronounced “dee”. Basically, a dit name is more like a nickname as it represents what they were actually called rather than an actual given name. They were used to help differentiate between people with similar names in really large family groups. (more…)

19 Dec 2012