MOREAU Surname Meaning and Origin

What Does the Last Name Moreau Mean?

The common French surname Moreau originated as a nickname for someone with dark skin. / Getty Images

The Moreau surname originated as a nickname for someone with dark skin, derived from the Old French word more, meaning "dark skinned," which in turn derives from the Phoenician mauharim, meaning "eastern." 


Surname Origin: French

Where in the World Do People with the MOREAU Surname Live?

According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Moreau is the 4,308th most common surname in the world, but ranks 12th most common in France, 122nd in Belgium, 204th in Gabon, 267th in Haiti and 300th in Canada. WorldNames PublicProfiler indicates that within the borders of France, Moreau is most common in the Poitou-Charentes region of France, followed by Centre, Pays-de-la-Loire, Limousin and Bourgogne.

Geopatronyme, which includes surname distribution maps for different periods of French history, has the Moreau surname as most common in the northern Nord department, followed by the central departments of Indre, Vendee, Deux Sèvres, Loire Atlantique and Charente Maritime for the period between 1891 and 1915. The general distribution holds for more recent decades, although Moreau was most common in Loire Atlantique between 1966 and 1990, followed by Nord.

Famous People with the MOREAU Last Name

  • Jeanne Moreau - legendary French actress who appeared in nearly 150 movies, including Jules and Jim and The Bride Wore Black.
  • Auguste Francois Moreau - prominent Victorian and Art Nouveau sculptor
  • Gustave Moreau - French symbolist painter
  • Marguerite Moreau - American actress

Genealogy Resources for the Surname MOREAU

Meanings of Common French Surnames
Uncover the meaning of your French last name with this tutorial on the different types of French surnames, along with meanings and origins of the most common last names in France.

How to Research French Ancestry
Learn how to research your French family tree with this guide to genealogical records in France. Includes information on both online and offline records including birth, marriage, death, census and church records, plus a letter writing guide and tips on sending research requests to France.

Moreau Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Moreau family crest or coat of arms for the Moreau surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted. 

MOREAU Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Moreau surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Moreau genealogy query.

FamilySearch - MOREAU Genealogy
Explore over 2 million historical records which mention individuals with the Moreau surname, as well as online Moreau family trees.

GeneaNet - Moreau Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Moreau surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries. - MOREAU Genealogy & Family History
Free databases and genealogy links for the last name Moreau.

The Moreau Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Moreau from the website of Genealogy Today.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.

Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.

Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.

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