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What are some popular French surnames?

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Quick Answer

As of 2005, the five most common surnames in France were Martin, Bernard, Dubois, Thomas and Robert. Other common French surnames are Petit, Moreau and Laurent.

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Full Answer

Martin occurs in approximately 235,000 families in France. Martin derives from the Roman name Martinus, which in turn derives from the Roman god Mars. The surname became popular in France because of 4th-century bishop Saint Martin of Tours, who is now the patron saint of France.

Bernard occurs in approximately 105,000 families in France. Bernard derives from a German word that means "brave bear." Bernard is common in France because of Saint Bernard of Menthon, a man famous for building hospices in the Swiss Alps.

Dubois, Thomas and Robert are each surnames for over 90,000 families in France. Dubois means "from the forest" in French. Thomas derives from the apostle of the same name, and is likely common in France because of influence from nearby England. Robert derives from the Germanic name Hrodebert, which means "bright fame." Two 10th-century French kings had this name.

Petit, which means "small" or "little" in French, is the seventh-most common surname in France. Moreau is the 10th-most common French surname, and derives from the Latin name Maurus, which means "dark-skinned." Laurent is the 12th-most common French surname, and derives from Saint Laurence of the third century.

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