Bernard \b(e)-rna-rd, ber-nard\ as a boy's name is pronounced ber-NARD. It is of Old French and Old German origin, and the meaning of Bernard is "strong, brave bear". Three famous medieval saints bore the name: a founder of a monastic order, the patron saint of mountain climbers, and a scholastic philosopher. Brought to England with the Norman Conquest. A native Old English form, Beornheard, was superseded by the Norman form. Fairly common until the 18th century, and revived somewhat around 1920, but now unusual. See also Bjorn. Playwright George Bernard Shaw; statesman Bernard M. Baruch; film director Bernardo Bertolucci; art critic Bernard Berenson; comedian Bernie Mack.
Bernard has 23 variant forms: Barnard, Barnardo, Barney, Barnhard, Barnhardo, Barnie, Barny, Bear, Bearnard, Berend, Bern, Bernardino, Bernardo, Bernarr, Bernd, Berndt, Bernhard, Bernhardo, Bernie, Bernis, Bernt, Burnard and Vernados.
For more information, see also the related name Berry.