implies distinction

There were plenty of examples of such snobbery. Laugeois, farmer-general, called himself de Laugeois; Delrieux, the king's maître d'hôtel, became de Rieux de Saintrailles, first equerry to the Duc de Bourbon, changed his family name from Roton to Poton so as to suggest descent from a companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc; the son of M. de Sonin, receveur of Paris, called himself de Sonningen, for exoticism's sake, while the Nicolai family were really plain Nicolas.

Note from Of Certain Customs, the fourteenth chapter of 'Characters' by Jean De La Bruyère (1688)

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