According to Dictionnaire etymologique des noms de famille et premoms de France by Albert Dauzat, the French surname Marat normally indicates one's ancestors came from a place in the Puy-de-Dome area of France. However, in the case of the famous revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, his name is a "Francization" of the Sardinian surname Mara, as his father was from Sardinia. The revolutionary's family in turn claimed that Mara was originally a surname from Spanish nobility, but Dauzat thinks a Jewish origin is more likely. But in either case he doesn't give an original meaning.
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