We all know that, at the origin, all surnames had a particular meaning. The family name BREM with all its orthographical variations, has several of them. In modern French, it identifies a variety of fish as I already mentioned. In popular french slang called argot, a "breme" is a playing card and the expression "to disguise the bremes" (maquiller les bremes), means to make on the back of the cards some marks making it possible to recognize them. However, to have the meaning of the word at the time which interests us, it should be studied in its old context.
The "Dictionary of the Old French language and all its dialects from the IX th to the XV th centuries" (Dictionnaire de l'Ancienne langue francaise et de tous ses dialectes du IX e au XV e siecles) by Frederic Godefroy, Paris 1880, volume I, page 723, gives this for the definition of BREME, BREIME, BRAME, BRASME : a kind of semi-precious stone. Let us take it in a quotation from Charlemagne's medieval french.
Which can be translated by : the windows are provided with many crystals cut carefully and decorated with BRASMES imported from overseas. So in this case, Brames may indicate some amber bought from Scandinavia since a quotation from Aye d'Avignon makes the distinction between a stone and a "brasme". I also found the word "brasme" in a quotation from Blancand :
The word "brasme" thus refers to a yellow or fair color, perhaps related to the color of the hair of these old Germanic peoples. Finally, Alphonse Bos in his " Glossary of the language of oïl (XI e - XIV e centuries" (Glossaire de la langue d'oïl (XIe -XIVe siecles) 1974, Laffitte, Marseilles, page 58, also defines "brasme" as a semi-precious stone. And as Mrs Dhellemme-Brasme pointed out to me, it frequently happens to find our family name written Brasme, Bremme or Braeme in the same document. Regarding this last spelling, we can see that the " S " is replaced by the Flemish " ae ". You will not then be surprised to find many BRAEM in Ghent, Belgium.
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