PETIT - Surname Meaning and Family History

What Does the Last Name Petit Mean?

The Petit surname was often bestowed on someone of small stature.
Andrew Bret Wallis / Getty Images

From the Old French for "small," the Petit surname was often bestowed upon an individual of small stature.

Surname Origin: French

Alternate Surname Spellings: PETTIT, PETET, PETTET, PETTITT

Famous People with the Surname PETIT

  • Philippe Petit - French high-wire artist
  • B. R. Petit - American sculptor
  • Nathaniel Pettit - early political figure in Upper Canada
  • Charles Pettit - American lawyer and merchant
  • Katherine Pettit - American educator
  • Rowland Pettit  - Australian-born American chemist
  • Donald Pettit - American astronaut

Where is the PETIT Surname Most Common?

According to surname distribution from Forebears, the Petit surname is extremely common in France, where it ranks as the 7th most common surname in the country. Petit is also fairly common in other countries with French-speaking populations, such as Haiti (59th), Belgium (78th), New Caledonia (28th) and Luxembourg (91st). Within the United States, the largest number of Petits are found in Florida, followed by New York, California, Ohio, Illinois and Massachusetts. The greatest density of individuals named Petit, however, are in Rhode Island.

Surname maps from WorldNames PublicProfiler indicate the Petit surname is by far the most commonly found in north and central France, especially in the regions of Haute-Normandie, Champagne-Ardenne, Picardie, Bourgogne, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, Centre, Poitou-Charentes, Franche-Comté, Limousin and Île-de-France. It is also common in Quebec, Canada.

Genealogy Resources for the Surname PETIT

French Surname Meanings and Origins
Does your last name have origins in France? Learn about the various origins of French surnames and explore the meanings of some of the most common French last names.

How to Research French Ancestry
Learn about the various types of genealogical records available for researching ancestors in France and how to access them, plus how to locate where in France your ancestors originated.

Pettit DNA Project
This DNA family project was established in 2008 to determine the DNA haplotypes of Petit family lines around the world, with a focus on origins in England, Ireland and France. Variant spellings also welcome, including Petit.

Petit Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Petit family crest or coat of arms for the Petit 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.

PETIT Family Genealogy Forum
Search this popular genealogy forum for the Petit surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Petit query. There is also a separate forum for the Pettit surname.

FamilySearch - PETIT Genealogy
Explore over 800,000 results from digitized historical records and lineage-linked family trees related to the Petit surname, and variations such as Pettit, on this free website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. - PETIT Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Petit. You can also find listings for the Pettit spelling of the surname.

GeneaNet - Petit Records
GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Petit surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries.

The Petit Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse genealogy records and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the Petit surname 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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