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William Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name William including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

William Overview

  • Meaning: The name William is very popular, and it means “resolute protector” or “strong-willed warrior.” The Germanic name spread with the Norman Conquest until it reached England in the 11th century. From there, it spread in popularity with its use by prominent religious and royal figures. Often, it can abbreviate to “Wm.”
  • Gender: William is given to boys as a first name. There are female variations, such as Wilma and Billie as well.
  • Origin: 
  • Pronunciation: William is commonly pronounced “Wil-lee-yahm.”
  • Popularity: William is a very popular name.
  • Nicknames: Bill, Billy, Gil, Gui, Guiguille, Guigui, Guille, Jelle, Liam, Memo, Pim, Will, Wil, Willy, Willie, Wim, Wim.
  • Variations: Guilherme, Guillerme, Gwilym, Gwilherm, Gugghiermu, Gllâome, Illiam, Liam, Viliamu, Viliami, Vĩnh Liêm, Vilhelmo, Vilhelms, Viliam, Viljem, Vilém, Vilhjálmur, Viljormur, Vilhjálmr, Vilko, Vilyam, Vilyım, Vėljams, Weelum, Wilhelm, Wiremu, Willelm, Walaam, Wiliyom, Wiliyem.
  • Namesakes: William Shakespear, poet and playwright.

What Does the Name William Mean?

The name William is very popular. It means “resolute protector” or “strong-willed warrior.” The Germanic name spread with the Norman Conquest until it reached England in the 11th century.

It spread in popularity with its use by prominent religious and royal figures from that point on. It can be abbreviated to “Wm.”

What Is the Origin of the Name William?

Given primarily to boys, William has a Germanic origin and is most likely a derivative of Wilhelm.

The name spread to England by William the Conqueror, where it gained popularity as a trendy name that never went away (1).

How Popular Is the Name William?

William is a very popular name and has been so for over 900 years. In the United States, William has been a top 5 name for the past century, even peaking at number 3 on more than one occasion (2).

One of its variations is Liam. This name has been popularized in recent years as well.

How Do I Pronounce William?

William is commonly pronounced as “Wil-lee-yahm.” It can be pronounced as “Wil-yuhm” as well, though that is less common and provincial.

Is William a Boy or Girl Name?

William is typically designated to boys. However, there are plenty of female iterations, such as Wilhelmina, Wilma, and Billie.

Variations of William

There are vast amounts of variations for the name William.

Some, but not all, include:

  • Guilherme
  • Guillerme
  • Gwilym
  • Gwilherm
  • Gugghiermu
  • Gllâome
  • Illiam
  • Liam
  • Viliamu
  • Viliami
  • Vĩnh Liêm
  • Vilhelmo
  • Vilhelms
  • Viliam
  • Viljem
  • Vilém
  • Vilmos
  • Viljams
  • Vilius
  • Viliumas
  • Viljami
  • Vilhjálmur
  • Vilhjálmur
  • Viljormur
  • Vilhjálmr
  • Vilko
  • Vilyam, Vilyım
  • VėljamsWeelum
  • Whiriyamu
  • Whiliyamu
  • Wilhelm
  • Willem
  • Willum
  • Wilhelmus
  • Willem
  • Wilhelm
  • Wiremu
  • Willelm
  • Walaam
  • Wiliyom
  • Wiliyem

These are just a sample of the many variations. William is a widespread name all across the globe, and there are bound to be endless ways to say it.

Nicknames for William

But for how many variations there are, only a few nicknames exist in comparison.

Some of those nicknames include:

  • Bill
  • Billy
  • Gil
  • Gui
  • Guiguille
  • Guigui
  • Guille
  • Jelle
  • Liam
  • Memo
  • Pim
  • Will
  • Wil
  • Willy
  • Willie
  • Wim
  • Wim

Similar Names to William

There are also a handful of names similar to William, some of which are biblical while others are not.

Some of those similar names include:

Middle Names for William

William is often a middle name itself, but some great pairings with it as a first name include:

Sibling Names for William

Many names go great alongside William for a sibling, whether boy or girl. Some of them include:

For a brother:

And for a sister:

Famous People Named William

There are also many famous people named William. The first name that comes to mind is the father of poetry and playwright William Shakespeare.

Some other famous Williams includes:

  • Prince William: Duke of Cambridge.
  • William Golding: British author famous for Lord of the Flies and The Princess Bride.
  • William Shatner: American actor is known for his role in Star Trek.
  • William Wallace: Scottish hero in the film Braveheart.
  • William Wordsworth: English poet famous for Romantic-period work.

William in Popular Culture

Today, many Williams are characters in pop culture as well.

You might recognize:

  • Bill “The Butcher” Cutting: Fictional character from the film Gangs of New York.
  • Bill Denbroe: The main character from the book, television mini-series, and feature film, IT.
  • Bill the Lizard: Character from Alice in Wonderland.
  • Billy Hargrove: Antagonist in the Netflix series Stranger Things.
  • William “Buddy” Hobbs: The main character from the film Elf.

William FAQs

There might be some other questions in your mind about the name William. Let’s look at some.

Is William a Powerful Name?

For being a “resolute protector” or “strong-willed warrior,” William would need to carry strength in their name. Like other classic names, William never goes out of style because of its rich historical place.

Is William a Biblical Name?

William is not a biblical name as it is Germanic. However, it is a popular boy’s name in Christianity.

Is William a Cool Name?

For such a traditional name like William, it is bound to be cool, or it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has. For over 9 centuries, William has exerted strength and grace, helping the name’s popularity continue to rise. Since the 19th century, it has been in the top 20 boys’ names in the US.

What is the Personality of the Name William?

Williams traditionally exudes compassion, empathy, and care. They allow others to feel comfortable even when they aren’t. Looks matter too, and Williams tends to take care of their dress and appearance.

Is Williams a Royal Last Name?

When it was given its English version as William from the Dutch version of Willems, it became the second-most common last name in New Zealand, third-most in Wales and US, and fourth most common in Australia.

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