Moreau Surname Meaning and Origin

What Does the Last Name Moreau Mean?

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Moreau is a common surname in France that is found throughout the world, including the U.S. and Canada.

Alternate surname spellings for Moreau include Morreau, Moreaux, Morreaux, Morault, Morrault, Moreault, Moreaud, Morreaud, Morault, Moraud, Morraud, Morot, Morrot, Merau, Maureau, Maure, Moro, and Moreault.

Moreau Meaning

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

Where to Find

Moreau as a last name can be found in countries all over the world. 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.

The Moreau surname was most commonly found in the northern part of France, as well as in Indre, Vendee, Deux Sèvres, Loire Atlantique, and Charente Maritime in central France between 1891 and 1915. This general distribution held for successive decades, although Moreau was most common in Loire Atlantique between 1966 and 1990.

Famous People Named Moreau

Famous people with the last name Moreau include Jeanne Moreau, a legendary French actress who appeared in nearly 150 movies, including "Jules and Jim" and "The Bride Wore Black."

Auguste Francois Moreau was a prominent Victorian and Art Nouveau sculptor. Gustave Moreau was a French symbolist painter, and Marguerite Moreau was an American actress.

Moreau Family

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. 

Sources

Cottle, Basil. "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Paperback, 2nd edition, Puffin, August 7, 1984.

Dorward, David. "Scottish Surnames." Paperback, 1st Edition, Mercat Press, October 1, 2003.

"France of MOREAU between 1891 and 1915." Geopatryonyme.

Fucilla, Joseph. "Our Italian Surnames." Genealogical Publishing Company, January 1, 1998.

Hanks, Patrick. "A Dictionary of Surnames." Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press, February 23, 1989.

Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." 1st Edition, Oxford University Press, May 8, 2003.

"Moreau." Forebears, 2019.

Reaney, Percy H. "A Dictionary of English Surnames." Oxford University Press, January 1, 2005, USA.

Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Paperback, Genealogical Publishing Company, December 8, 2009.