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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 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 Abbey (1869-1962), Major League Baseball pitcher
- Bert Acosta (1895-1954), record setting aviator
- Bert Adams (1891-1940), professional baseball player in the early 20th century
- Bert Adams (Louisiana politician) (1916-2003), Louisiana state representative in the 20th century
- Bert Addinall (1921–2005), an English professional footballer.
- Bert Anciaux, Belgian politician and founder and former member of Spirit (later known as the Social Liberal Party, or SLP)
- Bert Assirati (1908-1990), English professional wrestler
- Bert Bell (1895-1959), National Football League commissioner
- Bert Berns (1929-1967), American songwriter and record producer in the 1960s
- Bert Blyleven (Aalbert), b. 1951, former MLB pitcher
- Bert Bos, b. 1963, Dutch computer scientist working for W3C
- Bert Brecht (Bertolt), 1898–1956, German dramatist. The surname Brecht incidentally has the same etymology.
- Bert Brown, former Canadian senator and retired farmer and development consultant
- Bert Convy, American singer, actor and game show host
- Bert Hatten, b. 1927, American newspaperman and politician
- Bert Kaempfert (Bertolt), 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
- Bert Vaux, b. 1968, American linguist.
- Bert Weckhuysen (born 1968), Belgian chemist
- Bert Williams (1874-1922), one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era
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 and Disney film Mary Poppins. Played in the film by Dick Van Dyke.
- Bert Raccoon, a lead character in TV series The Raccoons.
- Bert the troll, a character in the novel and film trilogy The Hobbit. Played on film by Mark Hadlow
- Bert from Bert & I, a character in humor stories set in the "Down East" culture of traditional Maine.
- Bert (disambiguation)
- Bart (disambiguation)
- Berth (disambiguation)
- Birt (disambiguation)
- Burt (disambiguation)
- E. Förstemann, Altdeutsches Namenbuch (1856), p. 235–254.
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