The Meaning and Origin of the Name Gilbert Everything You Need to Know

Gilbert is a popular name with Germanic roots that has been around for centuries. It has gone through many changes and adaptations over time, making it a fascinating subject for study. In this article, we will dive deep into the meaning and origin of the name Gilbert, and what makes it such a unique and interesting choice for parents today.

What is the meaning of the name Gilbert?

The name Gilbert has a few different possible meanings, depending on which source you consult. One common interpretation is that it comes from the Germanic words “gisil” (meaning “hostage”) and “berht” (meaning “bright” or “famous”), so the name could mean “bright hostage” or “famous hostage.” Another theory is that it comes from the Old English word “gyldan,” meaning “to pay or yield.” This interpretation gives the name a more monetary connotation.

What is the history of the name Gilbert?

The name Gilbert can be traced back to ancient Germanic tribes, where it was used as a given name. It became especially popular in England during the Middle Ages, where it was used by both nobility and commoners alike. Many notable people throughout history have borne the name Gilbert, including Sir Gilbert Hay, a Scottish writer and diplomat who lived in the 15th century, and Gilbert White, an English naturalist who lived in the 18th century.

How popular is the name Gilbert today?

The popularity of the name Gilbert has fluctuated over time. It reached its peak in the United States in the early 1900s, when it was a top 50 name for boys. However, it has since declined in popularity, and today it is considered a relatively uncommon choice. According to the Social Security Administration, in 2020 the name Gilbert ranked #885 in popularity for boys.

Pros and cons of the name Gilbert

Like any name, Gilbert has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few pros and cons to consider if you are thinking about choosing this name for your child:


  • Unique: Gilbert is not a very common name these days, so your child is unlikely to encounter many others with the same name.
  • Historical significance: The name Gilbert has been around for centuries, and has been borne by many notable people throughout history. Choosing this name for your child can be a way to connect them to that legacy.
  • Strong meaning: The name Gilbert has several possible meanings, all of which convey strength and positivity.


  • Outdated connotations: Some people might associate the name Gilbert with older generations, or with a particular era in history. This could make it feel less modern or trendy than some other names.
  • Unfamiliar to some: Because Gilbert is not a very common name these days, some people may struggle to pronounce or spell it correctly. This could be frustrating for your child as they grow up.

Alternatives to the name Gilbert

If you like the sound or meaning of the name Gilbert but aren’t sure it’s the right choice for your child, here are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Gideon: Like Gilbert, Gideon is an Old Testament name with strong roots and a powerful meaning (it means “destroyer” or “mighty warrior”).
  • Miles: Miles is a popular name that shares some of the same sounds as Gilbert, but feels more modern and approachable.
  • Everett: Everett is a surname-turned-first-name that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It has a similar length and syllable count to Gilbert, but feels fresher and more contemporary.

How to choose a middle name for Gilbert

If you have decided to name your child Gilbert, you may want to choose a middle name that complements it well. Here are a few tips for selecting the perfect middle name:

  • Consider family names: If there are any meaningful family names you would like to honor, consider using them as your child’s middle name.
  • Play with different sounds: Gilbert is a two-syllable name, so a middle name with one or three syllables could create a pleasing rhythm. Experiment with different combinations to see what feels right.
  • Look for complementary meanings: If you want to give your child a name with a strong overall meaning, look for a middle name that complements Gilbert’s meaning in some way.

Step-by-step guide to naming your baby Gilbert

If you have decided that Gilbert is the perfect name for your new baby, here is a step-by-step guide to the naming process:

  1. Get input from your partner or other family members to make sure everyone is on board with the name.
  2. Research the name’s history and meaning to make sure it resonates with you.
  3. Consider middle names that pair well with Gilbert.
  4. Make a list of your top choices, and say them out loud to get afeel for how they sound.
  5. Narrow down your list to your favorite option(s).
  6. Test out the name by using it in different contexts (i.e. introducing yourself with the name, imagining what it would look like on a birth announcement or wedding invitation, etc.) to make sure you still love it.
  7. Once you’ve settled on a name, start thinking about any nicknames or variations that might arise from it.

Tips for using the name Gilbert in a unique and memorable way

If you have chosen the name Gilbert for your child, here are some tips for incorporating it into their life in a special way:

  • Choose a personalized nickname: While Gilbert is a great name in its own right, some parents may want to give their child a more unique nickname to use day-to-day. Some options could include Gibby, Gil, or Bert.
  • Use the name as inspiration for nursery decor: If you’re looking for a theme for your child’s nursery, consider using elements inspired by the name Gilbert. This could include woodland animals (since “gisil” can mean “hostage” in some interpretations), or bright, sunny colors (since “berht” means “bright”).
  • Research notable people with the name Gilbert: Learning about famous Gilberts throughout history can be a fun way to connect your child to their name. You could read books about Gilbert White or Sir Gilbert Hay, or even plan a family trip to visit places associated with the name (like Gilbert, Arizona!).

The best middle names for Gilbert

If you have decided to name your child Gilbert but are struggling to come up with the perfect middle name, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Gilbert Alexander
  • Gilbert Theodore
  • Gilbert James
  • Gilbert Jasper
  • Gilbert Oliver


In summary, the name Gilbert has a rich and varied history, with roots in both Germanic and English cultures. While it may not be as popular as some other names today, it has a timeless quality that makes it a great choice for parents who want to give their child a name with lasting significance. Whether you choose to pair it with a traditional middle name or something more unique, we hope this article has given you some inspiration and ideas for making the name Gilbert your own.


  1. Is Gilbert a popular name?
  2. No, Gilbert is not very popular these days. It ranked #885 in popularity for boys in 2020.
  3. What does the name Gilbert mean?
  4. The name Gilbert can mean “bright hostage” or “famous hostage,” or it can have a monetary connotation.
  1. How do I choose a middle name for Gilbert?
  2. Consider family names, play with different sounds, and look for complementary meanings.
  1. What are some alternatives to the name Gilbert?
  2. Gideon, Miles, and Everett are all names with similar qualities to Gilbert.
  1. What are some good nicknames for Gilbert?
  2. Gibby, Gil, and Bert are all possible nicknames for someone named Gilbert.

I am Patricia Mann, an experienced professional in the art of naming children. With a wealth of knowledge in the field of baby names, I aim to assist parents in choosing a meaningful and beautiful name for their little ones. My expertise lies in the Name Meaning section, where I delve deep into the origins and significance of names, providing valuable insights that I hope will be beneficial for parents.

Understanding the profound impact a name can have on a child's life, I strive to offer comprehensive guidance. The Name Meaning section is not just a repository of information but a resource where parents can discover the rich tapestry of meanings associated with different names. It is my belief that a child's name is more than just a label; it encapsulates the desires, hopes, and love of the parents.

In this journey of baby naming, my goal is to make the process enjoyable and meaningful for parents, ensuring that the chosen name resonates with the family's values and cultural background. I invite you to explore the Name Meaning of Impeccable Nest section as we embark on the delightful and important task of naming the newest members of your family.

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