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There is a large number of Germanic names ending in -bert, second in number only to those ending in -wolf (-olf, -ulf). Most of these names are early medieval or medieval and only a comparatively small fraction remains in modern use.
The element -berht has the meaning of "bright", Old English beorht/berht, Old High German beraht/bereht, ultimately from a Common Germanic *berhtaz, from a PIE root *bhereg- "white, bright". The female hypocoristic of names containing the same element is Berta.
Modern English bright itself has the same etymology, but it has suffered metathesis at an early date, already in the Old English period, attested as early as AD 700 in the Lindisfarne Gospels. The unmetathesized form disappears after AD 1000 and Middle English from about 1200 has briht universally.
Names containing berht
There is no evidence of the berht element in Germanic personal names prior to the 6th century. It is mostly unknown in names of Goths, Vandals, Frisians or Norse, and only rarely occurs in names of Saxons. By contrast, it is very common among Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Franks and Bavarians. The popularity of the element in certain areas may be related to religion, similar to the wolf element being due to the worship of Wodanaz, the names with berht can be considered theophoric, in connection with the goddess Perchta. The full form of Old High German beraht is reduced in two ways, by omission of either the second (berht, perht, pert) or the first vowel (braht, praht, brat, prat, brecht). Early attestations of such names include Ethberictus, Garberictus, and Transberictus mentioned in Hontheim's Historia Trevirensis s. a. 699. Pardessus' Diplomata s. a. 745 has Berdbert as a rare example of a reduplicated Germanic name. Förstemann counts 369 names with final -bert(a), of which 61 are feminine.
Given names that remain in modern use include:
- names with -bert as final element
- names with Bert- as first element
Names abbreviated "Bert"
The following names are commonly abbreviated as "Bert":
- Bertrand/Bertram
- Herbert
- Norbert
People called Bert
- Bert Addinall (1921–2005), an English professional footballer.
- Bert Blyleven (Aalbert), b. 1951, former MLB pitcher
- Bert Bos, b. 1963, Dutch computer scientist working for W3C
- Bert Brecht (Bertholt), 1898–1956, German dramatist. The surname Brecht incidentally has the same etymology.
- Bert Kaempfert (Berthold), 1923–1980, German orchestra leader
- Bert Koenders (Albert), b. 1958, Dutch politician
- Bert Lahr (1895–1967), American actor and comedian.
- Bert McCracken (Robert), b. 1982, lead singer of alternative band The Used
- Bert Newton (Albert), b. 1938, Australian entertainer
- Bert Sakmann (Bertold), b. 1942, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Medicine
- Bert Trautmann (Bernhard, properly "Bernd", and "Bert" only because English audiences had pronunciation difficulties with "Bernd"), b. 1923, football player
As a surname
- Paul Bert, French physiologist
- Bert the policeman, a character played by Ward Bond in the film It's a Wonderful Life.
- Bert (Sesame Street), a Muppet character (of Bert and Ernie) on PBS' long-running children's television show Sesame Street
- Bert Ljung, a fictional character in the Bert diaries
- Bert (Mary Poppins), a Cockney chimney sweep in the book series & Disney film Mary Poppins
- Bert Raccoon, a lead character in TV series The Raccoons.
- Bert (disambiguation), includes BERT
- Bart (disambiguation)
- Berth (disambiguation)
- Birt (disambiguation)
- Burt (disambiguation)
- E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856), p. 235–254.
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