Derived from the Germanic element bern
"bear" combined with hard
"brave, hardy". The Normans
brought it to England, where it replaced the Old English cognate Beornheard
. This was the name of several saints
, including Saint Bernard of Menthon who built hospices in the Swiss Alps in the 10th century, and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century theologian and Doctor of the Church. Another famous bearer was George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), an Irish playwright and essayist.