QUEBEC-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC > 1999-09 > 0937947951
From: Suzanne B Sommerville <>
Subject: Re: [QUEBEC] liste des patronymes "dit"
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 17:05:51 -0400
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>Subject: Re: [QUEBEC] liste des patronymes "dit"
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Regarding this "dit" list: I have always thought that is means "also known
Does it stand for anything else?
"dit", pronounced "dzee", literally translates as "said to be" or "called".
The feminine version is "dite" = "dzit". The various "dit" names evolved
as nicknames, sometimes for soldiers, but not exclusively. Sometimes the
nickname records a characteristic or physical trait, such as Bontemps, good
times, or a geographical location, de Cognac, from Cognac.
Then, with so many individuals with the same first names and the small
population base, the "dit" names came to be a way of distinguishing one
Jean from his cousin Jean, etc. The next generation sometimes adopted the
"dit" name as the last name, using it exclusively. In large families, with
each son adopting a separate "dit" name, the cousins could all be recorded
with different last names. Another source of "dit" names was the attempt to
honor a deceased relative. Some families adopted the given name of a
patriarch and turned it into the last name, for example some of the
descendants of Vincent Jarret dit Beauregard ended up being called VINCENT.
Other families adopted a mother's maiden name as a "dit" name.
Descendants and even cousins of Louis Couc dit Lafleur and dit Montour
became known as MONTOUR. Women sometimes adopted "dite" names unrelated to
their father's or husband's names.
Add to this process that spelling was not yet standardised and that
individuals could have multiple first names (a majority of women given the
name Marie and many men named Joseph, for the Holy Family) and the result
is a forest of names. Non-French names were also given French equivalents.
L'Anglais was originally the Englishman; Taylor became Tailleur or
Taylard. The tendency in English records to give French names their
English equivalents (John for Jean, translating a last name from, say, Roi
to King, etc.) adds more challenge to the hunt.
The online PRDH is doing a good job of recording the variations that have
appeared on the records. What you see there on a record is what the
transcriber read on the original document, variations in spelling and last
names and all. Even recognizable mistakes in first names (these did
happen) are recorded as-found; so, for example, I know the wife of one
ancestor was named Madeleine, not Marguerite, but on one record she is
recorded as a Marguerite, actually her sister's name. ( Finding that
reminded me that a priest spoke my friend's sister's name, Barbara,
instead of my friend's name, Judith, during Judith's marriage ceremony! )
Suzanne Boivin Sommerville
in Michigan, USA