Last name origins & meanings:

  1. English (West Country): habitational name from any of the forty or so places in southwestern England called Beer(e) or Bear(e). Most of these derive their names from the West Saxon dative case, beara, of Old English bearu ‘grove’, ‘wood’ (the standard Old English dative bearwe being preserved in Barrow). Some may be from Old English bǣr ‘swine pasture’.
  2. North German and Dutch: from Middle Low German bāre, Middle Dutch bēre ‘bear’, applied as a nickname for someone thought to resemble the animal in some way, or as a metonymic occupational name for someone who kept a performing bear. Alternatively, it could have been a habitational name for someone who lived at a house distinguished by the sign of a bear, or from a Germanic personal name with this as the first element. See also Baer, Bahr.
  3. Respelling of Swiss German Bier.
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