Humanities › History & Culture Bernard Surname Meaning and Origin Share Flipboard Email Print David Fettes/Getty Images History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated March 06, 2019 The common Bernard surname derives from the Germanic given name Bernhard or Beornheard, meaning "strong or brave as a bear," from the elements beran, meaning "bear" and hardu, meaning "brave, hardy, or strong." The Bernard surname has appeared with several dozen different spelling variations, originating in a number of different countries. Bernard is the 2nd most common surname in France. Alternate surname spellings: Barnard, Bernart, Berndsen, Bernhard, Bernhardt, Bernaert, Benard, Bernat, BernthSurname origin: French, English, Dutch Where in the World Do People With This Surname Live? According to surname distribution data from Forebears, Bernard is the 1,643rd most common surname in the world—most prevalent in France, and in countries with a French-speaking population or French histories such as Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Belgium, and Canada. WorldNames PublicProfiler also has the surname as most common in France, followed by Luxembourg and Canada (especially on Prince Edward Island). Geopatronyme, which includes surname distribution maps for different periods of French history, has the Bernard surname as fairly common throughout France during the period 1891–1915, although slightly more common in Paris, and the departments of Nord and Finistère. The popularity in Nord has continued to increase, now topping the list by a large margin. Famous People With This Last Name Claude Bernard - French physiologist; pioneer in the introduction of blind experiments and the discovery of homeostasisCatherine Bernard - French novelistÉmile Bernard - French painterÉmile Bernard - French composerTristan Bernard - French novelist and playwright Genealogy Resources How to Research French Ancestry - Learn how to research your French family tree with this guide to genealogical records in France. Includes information on both online and offline records including birth, marriage, death, census and church records, plus a letter writing guide and tips on sending research requests to France.Family Genealogy Forum - Search this popular genealogy forum for the Bernard surname to find others who might be researching your ancestors, or post your own Bernard genealogy query.FamilySearch - Explore over 2.3 million historical records which mention individuals with the Bernard surname and its variations, as well as online Bernard family trees.GeneaNet - Includes archival records, family trees, and other resources for individuals with the Bernard surname, with a concentration on records and families from France and other European countries. References Cottle, Basil. Penguin Dictionary of Surnames. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967.Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Collins Celtic (Pocket edition), 1998.Fucilla, Joseph. Our Italian Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.Hanks, Patrick and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1989.Hanks, Patrick. Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press, 2003.Reaney, P.H. A Dictionary of English Surnames. Oxford University Press, 1997.Smith, Elsdon C. American Surnames. Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.