Recently I’ve spotted several female movie characters named Pert:
- Pert Martin – Take It Big (1944)
- Pert Kelly – Why Be Good? (1929)
- Pert Barlow – Checkers (1913 & 1919)
Plus there was the American actress Pert Kelton (b. 1907), who was named with the Checkers character in mind. (The story ultimately comes from the 1896 book Checkers: A Hard-luck Story by Henry M. Blossom.)
Despite this usage in early cinema, though, the name never really caught on; it has never appeared in the SSA data.
But it has seen some usage, according to the records. And, interestingly, that usage seems to skew masculine.
The male Perts were probably named with the surname Pert in mind. The surname can be traced back to the Old French word apert, meaning “skilled” or “experienced.” (Apert in this case is a variant of espert, from the Latin word expertus.)
But I think the female Perts — like the characters above — were more likely named with the English word in mind. The Oxford Dictionary defines pert as “attractively lively or cheeky.” This version of pert can also be traced back to apert, but, this time, apert comes from the Latin word apertus, meaning “opened, uncovered.”
- Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Pert – Wiktionary