Bear Family History
Bear Name Meaning
English: variant of Beer English: from the Middle English nickname Bere meaning ‘bear’ (Old English bera which is also found as a byname) or from a personal name derived from a short form of the various ancient Germanic compound names with this as the first element (compare e.g. Bernhard ). The bear has generally been regarded with a mixture of fear and amusement because of its strength and unpredictable temper on the one hand and its clumsy gait on the other and in the medieval period it was also thought to typify the sins of sloth and gluttony. All these characteristics are no doubt reflected in the nickname. Throughout the Middle Ages the bear was a familiar figure in popular entertainments such as bear baiting and dancing bears. Compare Beer Native American: translation into English (and shortening) of a personal name based on a word such as Lakota and Dakota Sioux mato and Meskwaki (Fox) makwa meaning ‘bear’. The great cultural significance of the bear to Native Americans is reflected in their traditional personal names many of which were adopted as surnames (translated into English) e.g. Black Bear (see Blackbear ) Little Bear (see Littlebear ) Standing Bear (see Standingbear ) and Young Bear (see Youngbear ). Americanized form (translation into English) of cognates of 2 above in other languages for example German Baer and Slovenian Croatian Ukrainian and other Slavic Medved and also an Americanized form of German Bahr .
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022