Saturday, March 31, 2012

Surname Saturday - Lefebvre

Today's Surname Saturday post will round out the month of Smiths. So far, we have discussed English Smith, Slavic Kowatch and Breton Le Goff. This week we are going to stay in France, but turn to the French surname Lefebvre. French is a Romance language, one of Europe's "Big Three" language families together with Germanic and Slavic. The Romance languages have their origins in Latin.

The surname Lefenvre was carried to North America by early settlers of Quebec, including my wife's 10th great grandmother, Angélique Lefebvre, who also happens to be the mother-in-law of my 11th cousin once removed, Pierre Samson.

The ultimate origin of the name Lefebvre and variants like Lefèvre is the Latin word faber meaning "craftsman". You may recognize the root in English words of Latin origin like fabricate and fabric.  Through a process of semantic narrowing, the word took on the more specific meaning of a craftsman in metal. This term is no longer used in Modern French where we find forgeron. 

This name is mainly found in the north of France in Normandy and the regions of Picardy, Île-de-France, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, areas that supplied many of the settlers of New France including a number of bearers of this name (See map).  You may also have noticed that this name includes the definite article "le".  Unlike Le Goff where the article is usually written as a separate word, Lefebvre is almost always written as a single word.  For more discussion of the use of article in French names, check this earlier post.

1 comment:

  1. We also have Lefebvre ancestry - our immigrant Lefebvre was Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre born c.1645 son of Geoffroy & Jeanne Mile of St-Germain, Amiens, Picardie, Fr.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)