Despite the geographical distance, there is a lot of France in Brazil, even in the names and surnames of Brazilians.
In the past, French surnames were given according to three main aspects: the place, the profession, or the physical characteristics of a group of people.
Find out more about the origin and meaning of beautiful French surnames, from the most classic to the rarest, including some of the most common in Brazil.
French surnames derived from male names
It is not uncommon to find French surnames that originate from given names. Check some of them in the male version:
This surname comes from the first name Harmand which, in turn, comes from the name Herman in English. The surname means “man of the army”, and comes from the combination of the terms hari “army” and man “man”.
Bastien also comes from a French name: Sabastian. This name was used to identify men coming from Sebaste, a city that in the past was located between Cappadocia and Armenia. It is also believed that the name may have originated from the Greek sebastós, which means “sacred, venerable”.
Derived from Germanic, this is a common surname with a powerful meaning: governor brave (ric “governor”, hard “courageous”). The name is quite popular in England as well, where it was introduced by the Normans.
Very common among French people, Martin (or Saint Martin) comes from the Latin term Martinus, which is derived from Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war. This name became very popular, among other reasons, because of Saint Martin de Tours (Saint Martin of Tours), one of the most important saints in the Christianization process of Europe in the fourth century.
Bernard is also a Germanic surname that combines the terms bern “bear”, and hard “brave”. This is a name of religious origin and was also the name of several saints in England and Switzerland, as well as France.
The surname Delyon comes from the name Lyon, which comes from old French and means “fierce”. It was a nickname given to courageous warriors and it is believed that it may also be associated with a housing origin, given to those who lived in houses with the symbol of a lion.
French surnames derived from female given names
Like male names, some French surnames also come from female first names. We separate some for you!
This surname is derived from the name Angelle, which comes from the Latin angelicus, meaning “angel”. The name is normally associated with the idea of a messenger of God.
Laviolette refers to violet flower. Although the explanation sounds a little unusual, the truth is that this name was used to refer to soldiers and domestic servants in France. The name is quite popular in the French part of Canada as well.
A variant of the name Nicole, this surname comes from the Greek Nikólaos, which unites the terms níke, “victory”, and “people”. The name refers to “the one who conquers with the people”.
Beautiful and classic French surnames
You may have already heard many of the French surnames below, as they are quite common. But you know what they mean? No? We count for you!
Originating from the Old French term roche, meaning “rock”, this surname was used to indicate those who lived near tall rocks or places that had “rock” in their names, such as “Les Roches” in Normandy.
Leblanc literally means “the white people”. The surname first appeared in the Normandy region of France and refers to a person with fair skin and blond hair. It is also related to values like justice and honesty.
It derives from the term rey, which means “king” in French, Spanish and Catalan. The last name is very common in France and also in the French region of Canada, and has its origins in the Middle Ages.
From the Latin durans, the surname means means “enduring”. This was a very common name especially in the Jewish community in southern France.
It comes from the diminutive of the word chape, which means “cloak or hood”. The name refers to the people who worked producing, selling or who simply wore capes. Other theories also assert that the name was given to those who worked as carpenters.
This name is derived from the Old French poule which means “chicken”. This is a surname that was probably given according to the profession, representing people who bred or sold poultry.
The last name is also in the title of a well-known French film, “The fabulous destiny of Amelie Poulin”.
This surname originates from the Old French word gagnon, which means “watchdog”. It is believed to have come up as a nickname for an aggressive person.
Cartier is derived from the English name Carter. It is an occupational surname related to workers responsible for transporting goods.
Rare French Last Names
Transformations over the course of history can increase as well as decrease the popularity of names. Discover some rare French surnames.
Despite being cute, this is an unusual last name. The name comes from the old French ros, which means “red”. The surname began to be used to describe people with red hair.
Another fairly rare French surname is Aubinet. Of medieval origin, this surname is a diminutive of the name Aubin, which comes from the ancient Roman Albus, which means “white”.
There are several theories about the origin of this surname, but most studies point to an origin linked to the French town of the same name, Beaufay, which in the past was known as bellus fagus, which means “beautiful beeches”, where this type of tree it was prevalent.
Derived from the proper name Delphinus, which means “dolphin”, Dauphin is a rare, prestigious name, and has its first records in the Middle Ages. It was used to designate the families that lived in the Dauphiné region of France.
Noble and chic French surnames
France is often highlighted by its elegance and refinement. Some surnames can also represent these traits because of the history they carry.
Renault is a French surname of great prestige. The name comes from the language of the Visigoths, people who controlled France for about two centuries, and is composed of the terms ragin, which means “council”, and wald, which means “rule, or reign”.
The surname Remy is also a noble French surname. It is believed that the meaning of this last name has to do with the Latin term remigis, which means “oarsman”.
Common French surnames in Brazil
The surname Beaufort is the combination of the term beau, which means “beautiful” and fort, which means “strong” (military fort). This surname is believed to have emerged to refer to the resident of a place with the same name.
In Brazil, over time, Beaufort became Belfort, as it is easier to pronounce for Brazilians.
Other surnames with the same beau prefix that also refer to family groups coming from a certain location are:
beauchamp: beautiful field (beau “beautiful”, champ “field”)
Beauchene: beautiful oak (beau “beautiful”, chene “oak”)
beaumont: beautiful mount (beau “beautiful”, mont “mount”)
Brunet is a surname originating from the diminutive of the word brum, coming from the old Saxon, which means “brown”. Records of this surname date back to medieval France.
The Piquets initially lived in Picot de Saio, in the French region of Normandy, and their surname originates from that location. In Brazil, a family known by this surname is the ex-racing driver Nelson Piquet.
Orleans, the name of the Brazilian royal family, is of noble lineage and originates from the Orleanais region, in north-central France, so it is a name linked to the place and does not have a specific meaning.
The descendants of this royal family, which emerged from the marriage of D. Isabel de Bragança, imperial princess of Brazil, with Prince Gastão de Orléans, count d’Eu, have dozens of heirs in Brazil.
This French surname has been spelled in Brazil: Fontenele. The last name seems to be linked to the French town of Fontainebleau.
Adapted in Brazil to Bitencourt, this last name comes from the north of France, and indicates that it was a last name linked to the characteristics of a specific location. The suffix court means garden. It is believed that the name was taken to Portugal by the navigator Jean de Bethencourt, and that from there it arrived in Brazil.
More French surnames to know
Means “baker” or “baker”. Name that references a profession.
It means “French” and is used as both a male first name and a surname in France.
It means “to cultivate” and derives from the Old French word Gagnier.
It means “from Allaire”. This last name references the village of Allaire. Part of the Allaire family’s descendants settled in North America, more specifically in Quebec and New York.
Means “brave” or “daring”. This last name carries the root of other last names like Thibauld and Baudouin.
It means “blacksmith” or “ferreira” and is the equivalent of the popular surnames Smith, in English, and Ferreira, in Portuguese.
It means “helmet” or “guard”. It has the same root as the names Guilherme and William.
It means “bright heart”.
It means “the one who comes from the heel”. It is a popular French masculine given name, but has also been used as a surname since the medieval period.
It means “January” and is used both as a first and last name in France. Children born in January were usually baptized with this name.
It means “glowing gothic”.
De La Fontaine
It means “from the fountain”. The fable writer Jean de La Fontaine was one of the most well-known personalities with this popular French surname.
It means “of the fields”.
It means “from the forest” and is among the top 10 most popular surnames in all of France.
It means “beautiful place” and makes reference to a French city.
It means “bear” or “spear”. It is a French surname derived from two Germanic words.
It means “bold master”. This French surname has especially become popular in the Quebec region of Canada.
It means “dark skinned”.
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