I don’t speak French, so this looks like it might translate to ‘The Cat-Maker’. But ‘cat’, in French, is ‘chat’ and not ‘chât’ isn’t it? Maybe the name is related to ‘château’? Maybe ‘Castle-Maker’?
My paper-back dictionary says “cat’s hole - as in a door, etc.”
Are you sure it is not a name?
It’s a place-name. I’d wager it has an etymological connection to château rather than a chat.
It’s a person’s name (in the most famous case) - the principle is named after this guy, who discovered it.
Yes, it’s a name. But names have a meaning. For example, Messerschmidt is Cutler and Schumacher is Shoemaker and du Bois is ‘of the woods’ for Wood or Woods.
Typically the carat “^” replaces an “S”, as in hospital or hostel, so your second guess would most likely be right. Maybe means a guy who runs the castle? I doubt there was a castle “maker” occupation.
Some information here (in French). The gist is:
The office of castellan / chatelain often gives rise to the surname Châtelain / Châtelin. It’s just a job, not necessarily anything especially noble. For smaller properties, the diminutives Châtelard or Châtelet might be in force, or further west, Châtelier / Lechatelier.
Plus, of course, surnames often derive from place names.
I suspect it’s more likely to derive from a toponym, since castle-related toponyms are ludicrously common.
A carat is a measure of weight (diamonds) or purity (gold). The ^ sign is referred to as circumflex, or (in French) accent circonflexe. You may be thinking of the ‘caron’, or more commonly háček, which is a diacritical sign, but not the one used in French - instead it’s the ˇ sign, like the one used in my username.
No, he’s thinking of a caret, but you’re right that this is not the name of the diacritical mark.
It may be so, as it seems that there are indeed a few places named Le Châtelier in France.
However, that doesn’t really answer the question, because you’re still left wondering why these places are called this way. As Dr. Drake’s cite shows, the word breaks down into Châtel – castle, and -ier. In this context, this suffix denotes an occupation. See for instance hôtel -> hôtelier. Following this line, a Châtelier, would be someone whose occupation is related to castles.
On the other hand, this 90s-tastic page about a place in Bretagne called Le Châtelier claims it is named after a Roman observation fort, the castellum. Note that this is the same Latin word from which château derives, and so here, the -ier suffix is likely a diminutive.
-ier is never a diminutive, it clearly refers to some type of profession. I can’t find anything on the French, but in Dutch, there’s a profession called ‘kastelein’ derived from ‘kasteel’ (castle) that I think is related. I thought it only meant barman or landlord (of a pub or inn) but apparently it derives from a feudal position that was something like a steward or placeholder of some castle owner.
I immediately thought of “hôtelier”. This would be someone who runs an hotel. My guess is that a “Châtelier” runs a château.