Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Bernard

Bernard is from Bernhard, an ancient Germanic masculine name meaning “bold as a bear” from the Old High German “bero” (bear) and “hard” (hardy, bold, brave). The Olde English cognate, Beornheard, was replaced with Bernard after the arrival of the Normans. The name was most famously borne by an 11th century Alp-dwelling monk, Bernard of Menthon, who dedicated himself to converting the people of the Alps to Christianity (an isolated group still displaying practices of the old pagan traditions). He is best remembered for setting up “traveler safe houses” for French and German pilgrims going to Rome over the St. Bernard Pass (a very treacherous pass between Switzerland and Italy). The very large working-dog known as the St. Bernard was named after this saint; the breed was used to find and fetch people in perilous conditions. The pooch would mercifully show up donning a “brandy barrel” around his neck in order to keep the suffering warm while they awaited rescue. Sounds like a big “brave bear” to us! Further cementing Bernard’s “holiness” was another prominent 12th century theologian and Doctor of the Church, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. It was common practice to name one’s children after important saints as a way of honoring them (as well as a protective measure for the so-named child). Bernard was a popular baby name among American boys in the 19th and early parts of the 20th centuries. Today, however, this old dog is napping.

All About the Baby Name – Bernard

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME BERNARD

The number Eight personality has everything to do with power, wealth and abundance. Somehow, this personality has been blessed on the material plane, but their authoritative and problem-solving traits provide evidence that their good fortunes are not just the luck of the lottery. They are well earned. This is the personality of CEOs and high-ranking military personnel. Eights are intensely active, hard-driving individuals. Success is only meaningful to them after a job well-done.  They are remarkable in their ability to see the larger picture right down to the smallest details, and organize a strategy around success. They then have the ability to direct a group around them toward any goal, and realize individual potential to get the most out of their team.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME BERNARD

Bernard was a Top 100 favorite boy’s name in the United States starting in 1880 (which is as far back as we have available trend data). He maintained Top 100 ranking pretty much until the late 1940s. Bernard’s peak popularity occurred in 1921 when he was the 45th most common name across the country. However, as the decades progressed toward the 21st century, Old Bernard fell from fashionable use. Thos drops in popularity became more pronounced after the year 2000 and 2008 appears to be the last year Bernard will claim Top 1000 positioning (unless he makes an unforeseeable comeback). About 150 baby boys were given the name Bernard in 2012 which isn’t bad – just not enough to stay on the American radar. The name is cute in an old-fashioned sort of way – yet “bold as a bear” according to his etymology. We also like the fact he's a No. 8 in numerology (a very powerful number).

Quick Facts

ON BERNARD

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

BER-nahrd

SIMPLE MEANING:

Brave bear

Characteristics

OF BERNARD

Authoritative

Powerful

Tough

Tenacious

Wealthy

Problem-solver

Achiever

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Bernard

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME BERNARD

Popular Songs

ON BERNARD

We cannot find any popular or well-known songs with the name of Bernard


Famous People

NAMED BERNARD

We cannot find any famous people with the first name Bernard.

Children of Famous People

NAMED BERNARD

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Bernard

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME BERNARD

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Bernard