William Name Meaning

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What Does William Mean?

The name William is a timeless classic with English roots that date back almost a thousand years, yet is still popular today. It means "resolute protector" or "strong-willed warrior" and comes from Wilhelm, of Old German origin. After the name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror at the time of the Conquest, it gained status as a fashionable moniker.

Several kings named William have ruled in the British Isles, as well as in other empires. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is a current member of the British royal family and will be the eventual heir to the British throne.

  • Origin: The name comes from Germanic root Wilhelm which is composed of the elements wil (will or desire) and helm (helmet or protection).
  • Gender: William is historically the masculine form of the name. Feminine variations include Wilhelmina, Wilma, and Billie.
  • Pronunciation: WIL-lee-yahm

Although many baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It's important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular is the Name William?

William is a classic name that has endured for centuries. Not only is it popular in the English language, but it has its equivalent in other traditions as well.

Since 1900, the name William has consistently ranked in the top 20 names for boys in the United States. It has continually been a popular boy name, enjoying Top 10 status during the first 75 years of data collection by the Social Security Administration. Although it dropped in popularity from 1976-2005, the lowest ranking it ever reached was No. 20 in the 1990s.

William started slowly climbing the charts again after that and is currently ranked No. 5 in popularity in the United States in 2020.

Name Variations

There are many variations of the name William in other languages. These include:

  • Guillaume (French)
  • Willum (Scots)
  • Willian, Guilherme (Portuguese)
  • Viliamu (Samoan)
  • Guillermo (Spanish)
  • Liam (Irish)
  • Wilhem (German, Polish, Swedish)
  • Willem, Wilhelmus (Dutch, Low German)
  • Wallam (Persian)
  • Vilyam, Vilyim (Turkish)

Similar Names

Other boy names with English royal traditions:

  • Charles
  • Arthur
  • George
  • Phillip
  • Alexander
  • Louis
  • Henry
  • Edward
  • Richard

Other boy names starting with W:

  • Walter
  • Wesley
  • Walker
  • Wade
  • Wilson
  • Winston
  • Warren
  • Wyatt
  • Wilmer

Common Nicknames

Common nicknames for William include:

  • Will
  • Willy
  • Willie
  • Bill
  • Billy
  • Guy
  • Gill
  • Liam

Suggested Sibling Names

  • Elizabeth
  • Catherine
  • Beatrice
  • Eloise
  • James
  • Oliver
  • Edward

Famous People Named William

Notable Williams range from British kings to American presidents and Hollywood film and television stars. The popularity of the name William in the English language likely began with the invasion of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror, who became the first Norman monarch of England. Now, famous pop-culture icons named William use their nicknames professionally, including Billy Idol and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Famous Williams and Wills:

  • William Shakespeare, English playwright known as the greatest writer in the English language
  • William Shatner, actor/director most well-known for role as Captain Kirk in the "Star Trek" franchise
  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and heir to the British throne
  • Will Arnett, Canadian-American actor and Emmy nominee for "Arrested Development"
  • will.i.am, American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer

Famous Bills, Billy's, and Billie's

  • President Bill Clinton, served as the 42nd president of the United States
  • Bill Murray, American actor, comedian, and writer
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy, American mechanical engineer, science communicator, and television presenter
  • Billy Idol, English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor
  • Billy Graham, prominent American evangelist and evangelical Christian figure
  • Billy Ocean, British/Trinidadian recording artist of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Billie Eilish, American singer and songwriter discovered at age 14
  • Billie Joe Armstrong, American musician and lead vocalist of the rock band Green Day
  • Billie Holiday, American jazz singer who influenced the genre

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options:


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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Social Security Administration. Get Ready for Baby: Popularity of a Name. Published 2021.