masc. proper name, from an Old North French form of Old High German Hrodberht "bright-fame, bright with glory," from hrod- "fame, glory" (from Proto-Germanic *hrothi-), + *berht "bright" (from PIE root *bhereg- "to shine; bright, white"). Never a king's name, though it was the name of William the Conqueror's rebellious oldest son. "It was introduced by Normans during the reign of Edward the Confessor and became very popular" ["Dictionary of English Surnames"].
In Middle English, from mid-13c., also "a designation for a robber, vagabond, or lowly person" ["Middle English Compendium"]; hence Robertes men "robbers, marauders;" Robert-renne-aboute "a wastrel, a good-for-nothing."
Highland freebooter and folk hero, Robert Roy MacGregor (1671-1734). His name means "Red Robert." Scott's novel first was published in 1817. As a type of cocktail made with Scotch whiskey, it is attested from 1960.
"London policeman," 1844, from the familiar diminutive form of the masc. proper name Robert, in reference to Mr. (later Sir) Robert Peel (1788-1850), Home Secretary who introduced the Metropolitan Police Act (10 Geo IV, c.44) of 1829. Compare peeler.
named for Irish-born chemist and physicist Robert Boyle (1627-1691), who published it in 1662.
electronic musical instrument, 1969, from Robert A. Moog (1934-2005), the U.S. engineer who invented it.
The point is that I don't design stuff for myself. I'm a toolmaker. I design things that other people want to use. [Robert Moog, interview in "Salon," 2000]
"rapid oscillatory motion observed in very small particles," 1850, for Scottish scientist Dr. Robert Brown (1773-1858), who first described it.
c. 1300, Hobbe, a variant of Rob, diminutive of Robert (compare Hick for Richard, Hodge for Rodger, etc.). Also a generic proper name for one of the common class.
late 14c., Hikke, a popular pet form of the masc. proper name Richard (compare Hod from Robert, Hodge from Roger). Meaning "awkward provincial person" was established by 1700 (see rube); earlier it was the characteristic name of a hosteler, hackneyman, etc. (late 14c.), perhaps via alliteration. The adjective is recorded by 1914.
A hick town is one where there is no place to go where you shouldn't be. [attributed to U.S. humorist Robert Quillen (1887-1948)]