Gavroche (variant spelling: Gavrosh) is a character in Victor Hugo's 1860 novel, Les Misérables. His life story was brief. His parents, the Thenardiers, basically ignored his existence, and he spent most of his youth living on the streets, sleeping inside the hollow remains of an elephant-shaped fountain Napoleon had begun to build but never completed.
On 5 June, 1832, at the age of approximately 12 or 13, Gavroche fought alongside many Paris students in a revolt. At one moment in the fighting, when the ammunition was spent, the students began to argue over who would get the honour to risk their life by going to the other side of the barricade and collecting the ammunition from the dead enemy soldiers. Since the argument was going nowhere, Gavroche volunteered and was gathering the ammunition before anyone could stop him. He sang a song about the French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau as he collected the bullets, amidst enemy fire. He managed to dodge the bullets for several minutes, but was ultimately hit, and fell before he could finish the song.
Gavroche today in French means street gamin, or a mischievous child. It is rare, although not unheard of, that a fictional character embeds itself into a culture to the extent that his or her name takes on a meaning of its own. In the English language, Dickens's Scrooge, and Shelley's Dr Frankenstein come to mind.
Several organizations and companies use Gavroche's name. The Gavroche Association helps street children in Varna, Bulgaria. There are also several French restaurants across the world which use his name.