Updated June 9, 2019

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Family name origins & meanings

  • French : from the Old French verb boi(re) ‘to drink’ + the definite article l’ + eau ‘water’, hence a nickname, perhaps for a teetotaler, perhaps for a drinker, or perhaps for someone who was so parsimonious he was prepared to run the risk of drinking water. Compare Drinkwater.
  • An English and Irish family called Boileau is descended from Étienne Boileau, who was governor of Paris under Louis IX in 1255. A number of the family later became Huguenots, and so exiles who brought the name to North America and elsewhere. Charles Boileau (1673–1733) was a senior commander in the forces under the Duke of Marlborough, and his sons settled in Dublin.