Colbert comes from a French Norman surname derived from a Germanic personal name of uncertain meaning. While the second element comes from Proto-Germanic *berhtaz (bright, shining) from a PIE source, the first element is confusing. I’ve seen it listed as possibly being derived from Old English cōl (cool) via Proto-Germanic *kōlaz (cool) from PIE root *gel- (cold; to freeze). It may also be possible that it’s related to Old English col (coal) from PIE *ǵwelH- (to burn; to shine), and I’ve also seen it listed as coming from a Germanic element meaning “helmet”; or it could be derived from Anglo-Saxon Ceolberht or Ceolbeorht with the first element derived from Old English ceol meaning “ship”. It’s also possible that Colbert may have originated as a shortened form of Colibert, a contraction of collibertus, a Latin word meaning “freedman”. I’ve seen some sites listing it as possibly having an Irish origin but I couldn’t find anything concrete to back that up.
As for pronunciation, most people tend to pronounce it with the t being silent though others would probably pronounce it as col-bert.
Nicknames: Col/Cole, Colby, Bert, Bertie/Berty
- Colobert (Ancient Germanic)
- Culbert (English, Irish, Scottish)