Any tips for finding out the meanings of out-of-the-ordinary names?
February 7, 2011 6:38 PM Subscribe
Etymological/genealogical question--tips or tricks for finding the origin of a very elusive family name when Googlefu, Ancestryfu and all other manner of -fus fail?
posted by nonmerci to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wordy MeFites, I have a conundrum--I need the hive mind for guidance.
I love doing genealogical research, and I also love discovering the origins and/or meanings of names. Here is my problem:
My brother's name (actually his middle name but it is how he is called) is very unusual, so unusual that Google is essentially no help and genealogical databases provide little. The name is "Briasson." Oddly, an Antoine Briasson was the publisher of the first French Encyclopédie, yet as a French speaker and as someone who has spent time in France, I can say that I have never heard this name in contemporary France, and when questioning veritable French people on the origin of the name they look at me and say, "Bree-ahh-sohn??! Non, je le connais pas..." as if I am speaking a foreign language (heh).
I cannot for the life of me find the origin of this name, not even the country from where it might have come. It is a family name, having been my paternal great-grandfather's middle name (born 1893 in Bedford, Indiana--I have not yet found more information about his ancestry), and the Swede in me thinks it might be Scandinavian in origin because of the double S alongside the -son ending.
Of course, I'm not asking anyone to research the name for me. But the question of my brother's "fake name" plagues me and my immediate family and I am itching to get closer to its true meaning. Do any of you have tips or tricks for getting closer to the truth, barring finding out how far back the name goes in our line? I am at a loss, and too broke to hire a professional.
I deeply appreciate any of your thoughts, even if they are just ideas!
Hopefully everyone won't run off and name their children this, because it is a very special and unusual name, notoriously mispronounced ("What was that, Brad?"), that we all hold dear in my family circle. ;)