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Type Surname (from given name)
Usage Dutch, French

Meaning & History

Derived from Messiaen, the (archaic) Dutch form of the latinate first name Messianus, which itself is ultimately derived from the Roman praenomen Messus. The meaning of Messus is not wholly certain; it may be derived from the Latin verb meto "to reap, to harvest, to cut, to sever", or from the latinized form of Greek mesos or messos "(the) middle, (the) middle one". It could even be a variant form of the Roman praenomen Maesus. A well-known bearer of the Messiaen surname was French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Lastly, note that the spelling of both the first name and the surname is typical for archaic Dutch: the modern spelling would have been Messiaan (compare Adriaen vs. Adriaan, Christiaen vs. Christiaan, and so on). The surname is mostly found in Flanders and in areas of Northern France that historically had a Dutch-speaking population (as part of the Southern Netherlands).
Added 11/14/2011 by Lucille
Edited 11/14/2011 by Lucille