masc. proper name, from Old North French Hugues, Old French Hue, from a Frankish name meaning "heart, mind," cognate with Old High German Hugi, related to hugu "mind, soul, thought." Very popular after the Conquest (often in Latin form Hugo); the common form was Howe, the nickname form Hudd. Its popularity is attested by the more than 90 modern surnames formed from it, including Hughes, Howe, Hudson, Hewitt, Hutchins.
"radiating or reflecting light," Old English bryht, metathesis of beorht "bright; splendid; clear-sounding; beautiful; divine," from Proto-Germanic *berhtaz "bright" (source also of Old Saxon berht, Old Norse bjartr, Old High German beraht, Gothic bairhts "bright"), from PIE root *bhereg- "to shine; bright, white." Meaning "quick-witted, having brilliant mental qualities" is from 1741.