Family name origins & meanings
- French, Catalan, and English (mainly Leicestershire) : from Old French or Catalan petit ‘small’, hence a nickname for a small person (or an ironic nickname for a big man), or for the younger of two bearers of the same personal name. This name was common among Catalan Jews. It is also established in Ireland.
- The earliest bearer of this name to appear in Canada was from Paris, France, documented in 1647 in Quebec. Other early settlers include Calvinists from La Rochelle, France, and people from Picardy, Normandy, and Lyon. One Jean Petit gave both names to his line, so they are known by the surname Jeanpetit, which has at times been transcribed as Gentil “nice”.