BERNARD Surname Meaning and Origin

What Does the Last Name Bernard Mean?

The Bernard surname derives from terms meaning "strong or brave as a bear."
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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.


Surname Origin: French, English, Dutch

Where in the World Do People with the BERNARD 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 history 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 the BERNARD Last Name

  • Claude Bernard - French physiologist; pioneer in the introduction of blind experiments and the discovery of homeostasis
  • Catherine Bernard - French novelist
  • Émile Bernard - French painter
  • Émile Bernard - French composer
  • Tristan Bernard - French novelist and playwright

Genealogy Resources for the Surname BERNARD

Meanings of Common French Surnames
Uncover the meaning of your French last name with this tutorial on the different types of French surnames, along with meanings and origins of the most common last names in France.

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.

Bernard Family Crest - It's Not What You Think
Contrary to what you may hear, there is no such thing as a Bernard family crest or coat of arms for the Bernard surname. Coats of arms are granted to individuals, not families, and may rightfully be used only by the uninterrupted male line descendants of the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted. 

BERNARD 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 - BERNARD Genealogy
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 - Bernard Records
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.

BERNARD Surname Mailing List
Free mailing list for researchers of the Bernard surname and its variations includes subscription details and a searchable archives of past messages. - BERNARD Genealogy & Family History
Explore free databases and genealogy links for the last name Bernard.

The Bernard Genealogy and Family Tree Page
Browse family trees and links to genealogical and historical records for individuals with the last name Bernard from the website of Genealogy Today.

References: Surname Meanings & Origins

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.

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