What is the origin of the last name Gilbert?

The last name Gilbert has its origin in England and comes from the given name "Gilbert," which was derived from the Old Germanic elements "gil," meaning "hostage" or "pledge," and "beraht," meaning "bright" or "famous." The name Gilbert can be traced back to medieval times and was commonly used as a personal name, gradually evolving into a hereditary surname. The surname Gilbert spread across different parts of Europe due to migration and has variations in spelling and pronunciation in different languages and regions. Overall, the last name Gilbert has a rich history, rooted in its Old Germanic origin and its usage as a personal name throughout the ages.

Countries of origin for the last name Gilbert

The last name Gilbert is of Germanic origin and is derived from the given name “Gisilbert” or “Giselbert,” which was composed of the elements “gisil” meaning “pledge” or “hostage” and “beraht” meaning “bright” or “famous.” The name Gilbert was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066 and quickly gained popularity as a personal name. It is now one of the most common surnames in the English-speaking world, particularly in the United States.

The surname Gilbert can have variant spellings, including Gillbert, Gilbart, and Gylbert, among others. These variations can be attributed to the phonetic changes and misspellings that often occur throughout the evolution of surnames. Another interesting variant of the surname is “Gilbard,” which may be a result of a phonetic alteration or a regional difference in pronunciation.

Throughout history, individuals with the surname Gilbert have made notable contributions in various fields. One prominent figure is Sir Humphrey Gilbert, an English explorer and soldier who is credited with establishing the first English colony in North America. His half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, is also well-known for his voyages and colonization efforts in the New World.

The surname Gilbert has spread beyond the English-speaking world, with notable occurrences in other European countries as well. In France, for example, the name is spelled as “Ghilbert” and has a significant presence. This suggests that the name has been subject to both geographical and linguistic adaptations over time.

Understanding the etymology of the last name Gilbert provides insight into the possible characteristics associated with individuals who bear this surname. The elements “gisil” and “beraht” signify qualities such as trustworthiness, renown, and brightness. Therefore, it can be inferred that Gilberts may possess traits such as reliability, fame, and intelligence. However, it is important to note that these associations are speculative and should not be taken as absolute.

While the origins of the last name Gilbert are well-documented, there are still aspects that remain uncertain. For instance, the precise reasons behind the selection of the given name “Gisilbert” by the Germanic people are not explicitly known. The significance of the elements “gisil” and “beraht” in the context of Germanic culture could provide further insights into the deeper meanings associated with the name.

Furthermore, exploring the distribution and frequency of the surname Gilbert in specific regions or historical periods could shed light on migratory patterns or societal developments. Conducting a comprehensive genealogical analysis of individuals with the surname could also uncover familial connections and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the name’s legacy.

In conclusion, the last name Gilbert is a Germanic surname that has gained popularity worldwide, particularly in the United States. Its origin can be traced back to the given name “Gisilbert,” which combines elements meaning “pledge” or “hostage” and “bright” or “famous.” The surname has variant spellings and has been associated with notable individuals throughout history. While the etymology of the name provides some insight into potential characteristics, there are still aspects that remain uncertain and warrant further exploration. The surname Gilbert holds a rich history and offers a captivating subject for genealogical and historical research.

Interesting facts about the last name Gilbert

  • The surname Gilbert is of Germanic origin and is derived from the personal name “Giselbert,” composed of the elements “gisil” meaning “pledge” or “hostage,” and “berht” meaning “bright” or “famous.”
  • The name Gilbert was introduced to England by the Normans after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
  • English poet and playwright W. S. Gilbert, famous for his collaboration with composer Arthur Sullivan on the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, is one of the most well-known bearers of the surname.
  • Among the famous people with the surname Gilbert are the American writer Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling memoir “Eat, Pray, Love,” and the American actress Melissa Gilbert, who rose to fame for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the television series “Little House on the Prairie.”
  • The Gilbert surname can be found in various spellings across different countries, including Guilbert, Giliberto, and Gilbart.
  • The name Gilbert has been associated with several coats of arms, including one featuring three gold lions passant on a blue shield.
  • In Ireland, the name Gilbert is sometimes anglicized as MacGiollaBhriocáin or Mac Giolla Bhraoin, which means “son of the servant of St. Brice.” This variation indicates a connection to the Irish saint St. Brice.
  • The Gilbert surname is relatively common in both the United States and the United Kingdom, with significant populations in states like California, Texas, and Florida.
  • The meaning of the name Gilbert, with its element “berht” associated with brightness or fame, suggests qualities such as intelligence, wisdom, or renown.
  • Many individuals with the surname Gilbert have made significant contributions in various fields, including literature, music, film, and science, adding to the legacy of the name.

Name Rank


There are around 114940 people with the last name Gilbert in the US

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