Gender Masculine
Usage English
Pronounced Pron. WIL-yəm

Meaning & History

From the Germanic name Willahelm meaning "will helmet", composed of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection". An early saint by this name was the 8th-century William of Gellone, a cousin of Charlemagne who became a monk. The name was common among the Normans, and it became extremely popular in England after William the Conqueror was recognized as the first Norman king of England in the 11th century. From then until the modern era it has been among the most common of English names (with John, Thomas and Robert).

This name was later borne by three other English kings, as well as rulers of Scotland, Sicily (of Norman origin), the Netherlands and Prussia. Other famous bearers include William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish hero, and William Tell, a legendary 14th-century Swiss hero (called Wilhelm in German, Guillaume in French and Guglielmo in Italian). In the literary world it was borne by dramatist William Shakespeare (1564-1616), poet William Blake (1757-1827), poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), author William Faulkner (1897-1962), and author William S. Burroughs (1914-1997).

In the American rankings (since 1880) this name has never been out of the top 20, making it one of the most consistently popular names (although it has never reached the top rank). In modern times its short form, Liam, has periodically been more popular than William itself, in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and the United States in the 2010s.

Related Names

DiminutivesBill, Billie, Billy, Liam, Wil, Will, Willie, Willy
Feminine FormWilla
Other Languages & CulturesWilhelm, Willahelm(Ancient Germanic) Gwilherm(Breton) Guillem, Guim(Catalan) Vilim, Vilko(Croatian) Vilém(Czech) Vilhelm, Villum(Danish) Wilhelmus, Willem, Jelle, Liam, Pim, Wil, Willy, Wim(Dutch) Vilhelmo, Vilĉjo(Esperanto) Villem(Estonian) Viliame(Fijian) Vilhelm, Viljam, Viljami, Jami, Vilhelmi, Vilho, Vili, Viljo, Ville(Finnish) Guillaume, Liam, Lyam(French) Wilhelm, Liam, Willi, Willy(German) Vilmos, Vili(Hungarian) Vilhjálmur(Icelandic) Uilliam, Liam, Uilleag, Ulick(Irish) Guglielmo(Italian) Vilhelms, Vilis(Latvian) Wöllem, Wullem, Wum(Limburgish) Vilhelmas(Lithuanian) Illiam(Manx) Wiremu(Maori) Wilkin, Wilky, Wilmot(Medieval English) Vilhelm(Norwegian) Wilhelm(Polish) Guilherme, Gui(Portuguese) Uilleam(Scottish Gaelic) Viliam(Slovak) Viljem, Vili, Vilko(Slovene) Guillermo(Spanish) Vilhelm, Liam, Ville(Swedish) Viliami(Tongan) Gwilym, Gwil, Gwilim, Gwillym(Welsh)
Surname DescendantsGilliam, William, Williams, Williamson(English)

People think this name is

classic   mature   formal   upper class   natural   wholesome   strong   refined   serious   nerdy  

Name Days

Norway: May 28
Sweden: April 6


Depiction of William the Conqueror (17th century)Depiction of William the Conqueror (17th century)
Portrait of William ShakespearePortrait of William Shakespeare


Alien characters, American Horror Story characters, American presidents, American vice presidents, Aphra Behn characters, archers, Australian prime ministers, authors, Black Butler characters, British royal family, Canadian prime ministers, Charles Dickens characters, Chocolatier characters, conquerors, D. H. Lawrence characters, DC Comics characters, defence, desire, Dharma and Greg characters, directors, Discworld characters, Disney characters, Doctor Who actors, Downton Abbey characters, dramatists, Eureka Seven characters, Five Nights at Freddy's characters, Flack characters, Fleetwood Mac members, Frasier characters, Fringe characters, Gundam characters, His Dark Materials characters, Hunters characters, James Joyce characters, Jane Austen characters, Kingdom Hearts characters, kings, legend, Little Bill characters, Louisa May Alcott characters, Lovecraft Country characters, Luxembourgish grand-ducal family, Mayflower passengers, Megami Tensei characters, never out of the US top 100, never out of the US top 1000, Once Upon a Time characters, Outlast characters, Oz characters, Pandora Hearts characters, Philip K. Dick characters, poets, princes, protection, Regular Show characters, Resident Evil 0 characters, Resident Evil 2 characters, Robert A. Heinlein characters, saints, Star Trek actors, Star Trek characters, Stephen King characters, Stranger Things characters, Streathamites, The Four Hundred members, The Golden Girls characters, The Haunting characters, The Man Who Came to Dinner characters, The Smiths songs, The Sopranos characters, Thomas Hardy characters, Tolkien characters, top 10 in Australia, top 10 in Cornwall, top 10 in Denmark, top 10 in Ireland, top 10 in Jamaica, top 10 in New Zealand, top 10 in Norway, top 10 in Quebec, top 10 in Sweden, top 10 in the UK, top 10 in the US, top 10 in Wales, Trinity Blood characters, Two and a Half Men characters, UK prime ministers, Ursula K. Le Guin characters, Virginia Woolf characters, W. Somerset Maugham characters, Westworld characters, Wii Sports series opponent Miis, Will and Grace characters, William Faulkner characters, WITCH characters, YouTubers
Entry updated April 25, 2021