The 50 most common French surnames


Author: Clark Tos
2022-11-14 15:25:02

There are surnames that are more common than others: you come across Petit or Moreau more often than Gautheron or Lamouroux. Here is the list of the fifty most common French surnames.

Family names appeared in France from around the 12th century . With the increase in the population, the identification of individuals solely by their first name was no longer sufficient. But how were surnames assigned? Most of the time, surnames were chosen from the first name of the head of the family - hence the omnipresence still today of people with Martin, Bernard or Laurent as their surname. That's why we talk about the surname, that is to say the patriarch and not my mother (it would have been a matronym). Otherwise, surnames were constructed using the following criteria:

  • trades : Boyer, comes from bouvier, that is to say the one who keeps the oxen, while Lefebvre, in old French, means blacksmith, for example;
  • the physical or moral characteristics of a person : we think of Petit, Roux or even Legrand, quite explicit;
  • places of residence: the name Dubois was attributed to someone who owned a house near the woods, the name Dupont to someone who lived near the bridge.

It is the increase in population that has forced individuals to differentiate themselves by surnames / Photo credit: Unsplash

In 1474, the attribution of surnames was regulated by Louis XI, who notably prohibited change of surname without royal permission. Since the 16th century, surnames must be entered in administrative registers and religious acts (baptisms, marriages, burials). Today, the family name must appear in the civil registry, with the first name declared at the birth of a child.

Very rare surnames and (hyper) common surnames

Since the 12th century, family names have been transmitted from father to son, and, if certain names have changed while new ones have appeared, surnames of the time are still widely used in France , if not the most common. L' Insee (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) identifies more than 1.4 million different surnames in France . Some rarer than others. With less than fifty living bearers of the name, we are talking about a very rare surname, which would concern one in two people. With less than 500 living carriers, we are talking about a rare surname, which would represent one in ten people. The others have common surnames.

Family names have been passed down from father to son for generations / Photo credit: Unsplash


The 50 most common French surnames

In France, 300,000 people would be the only (and potentially last) bearers of their surname , which could thus disappear, while nearly 300,000 people bear the same surname, the most widespread: Martin. Here is the list of the fifty most common surnames in France, according to the INSEE censuses taken between 1891 and 1990, with their recurrence. Small precision: the names of the classification appear without accent, without umlaut or cedilla. The statistics institute makes no distinction between Müller and Muller or Faure or Fauré, for example.

  1. Martin - worn by 228857 people
  2. Bernard- carried by 120573 people
  3. Thomas - worn by 108141 people
  4. Small - carried by 105463 people
  5. Robert- carried by 102950 people
  6. Richard - worn by 99920 people
  7. Durand - worn by 99614 people
  8. Dubois - worn by 98951 people
  9. Moreau - carried by 94261 people
  10. Laurent - carried by 88803 people
  11. Simon - carried by 87,941 people
  12. Michel - carried by 85,489 people
  13. Lefebvre - supported by 82,522 people
  14. Leroy - carried by 79,204 people
  15. Roux - worn by 69,685 people
  16. David- carried by 69,212 people
  17. Bertrand- supported by 66,763 people
  18. Morel - supported by 66,417 people
  19. Fournier - supported by 65,758 people
  20. Girard - supported by 64,031 people
  21. Beanie - worn by 63,085 people
  22. Dupont - carried by 63,035 people
  23. Lambert- carried by 63,026 people
  24. Fontaine- carried by 62,869 people
  25. Rousseau - supported by 62,193 people
  26. Vincent - supported by 60,751 people
  27. Muller- carried by 58,811 people
  28. Lefevre - supported by 58,158 people
  29. Faure - carried by 58,097 people
  30. Andre - carried by 57,349 people
  31. Mercier - supported by 57,294 people
  32. White - worn by 57,127 people
  33. Guerin - carried by 56,839 people
  34. Boyer- carried by 56,246 people
  35. Garnier - supported by 56,244 people
  36. Chevalier- carried by 54,468 people
  37. Francois - supported by 54,107 people
  38. Legrand - supported by 53,523 people
  39. Gauthier - supported by 53,168 people
  40. Garcia- carried by 52,739 people
  41. Perrin- supported by 51,818 people
  42. Robin - carried by 51,038 people
  43. Clement- carried by 50,448 people
  44. Morin - supported by 49,974 people
  45. Nicolas- carried by 49,022 people
  46. Henry- carried by 48,972 people
  47. Roussel - supported by 48,889 people
  48. Mathieu - supported by 48,764 people
  49. Gautier - supported by 48,304 people
  50. Masson- supported by 48,076 people

Learn more about a surname

Today, there are many research tools to find out more about a name and the origin of a name , and therefore on a family, going back from generation to generation. Genealogy sites in particular, which make it possible to find distant relatives. It is also possible to make onomastics, i.e. the study of proper names , namely their etymology, their formation and their origin as well as their use. What to learn more about his family and his story.