What Are French ‘dit’ Names?

  • dit is the masculine form
  • ditte is the feminine form

In your research, you may have come across individuals with seemingly two surnames with ‘dit’ in between them.

Quoting from Denis Beauregard’s article from Francogene.com

“A “dit name” is an alias given to a family name. Compared to other alias or a.k.a. that are given to one specific person, the dit names will be given to many persons. It seems the usage exists in France, New France and in Scotland where we find clans or septs.”. You can find them in Pre-Revolution military and church vital records.

Example: Pierre Verger dit Bertaut. IN this case, Bertaut is the ‘also know as’ name, but in other cases it might be something different. Why are there ‘dit’ names? Which name do you record as the ‘true’ surname? It can be complicated, especially if one is used in one record, while the other is recorded in a different document. Though ‘dit’ names are used in France, most of them seem to be widely used in French Canada. If you’ve been tracing your ancestors in Québec, you, most likely, have come across “dit” names.

I highly recommend reading Denis Beauregard’s article explaining ‘dit’ names and spelling variations.
Click Here for the rest of the article

Now, the late Frank R. Binette, has also written an article explaining ‘dit’ names and how they originated, that conflicts with Denis Beauregard’s explanation. He states that ‘dit’ names are not alias, a.k.a. nor nickname.

The article is called:

“What in the World is a “dit” Name?”
by Frank R. Binette
(from “Lifelines Volume 11, Number 2, Whole Number 21,1994)

You can read it here

What is the correct explanation? Though, the historical explanations are invaluable, I believe (and this is just my belief) the common usage in French Canada aligns with Mr Beauregard’s, as an ‘also known as’ But you decide..

Roland Grenier has put together a PDF file of an extensive list of surnames with their ‘dit’ names components alongside. Very impressive!

Take a look Here

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