Messiaen surname.
Hello everyone,Recently I came across the surname of Messiaen, via a Wikipedia article about French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). To me, as a Dutch woman, this surname looks more like it is of Dutch origin than of French origin, since -aen is often archaic Dutch for what is now -aan (e.g. Adriaen is the archaic spelling of Adriaan). As such, the surname looks like a patronymic of sorts to me - first borne by a Flemish or Dutch ancestor of the composer, of which descendants must at some point have moved to French-speaking Wallonia and from there, to France.However, the meaning of the surname seems unclear to me, which is what I would like to know. A guess would be that Messiaen is the archaic Dutch form of Messianus, which may be a latinized form of Hebrew messiah "anointed" (which refers to Jesus). According to what I have been able to find on Google, Messianus has existed as a first name throughout history, albeit very, very rare. So perhaps the composer was the descendant of one of those very few Messianuses?That's all I have been able to come up with. I would gladly like to know if this theory has any relevance, or whether there is an other, better etymological explanation for the Messiaen surname. Thank you in advance to whoever can shed more light on this matter.Sincerely,Lucille

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold." ~ Frodo Baggins

This message was edited 5/16/2011, 7:16 AM

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According to Germain & Herbillon's Dictionnaire des noms de famille en Wallonie et à Bruxelles, Messiaen is an apheresis of Domitia(e)n which comes from the Latin name Domitius (< domus 'house'). See also for variants.
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