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Willow Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

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

Willow Overview

  • Meaning: Willow means ‘freedom’ and is derived from the name of the tree.
  • Gender: Willow is generally a unisex name, but it is a bit more common to use for girls.
  • Origin: The name Willow originates in Great Britain.
  • Pronunciation: WILL-oh.
  • Popularity: Very popular.
  • Nicknames: Will, Willa, Lo, Lolo.
  • Variations: Willo, Willoh, Wyllow.
  • Namesakes: Willow Smith, Willow Shields, Willow Rosenberg.

What Does Willow Mean?

Willow is an English name that means “freedom.”

The name Willow is inspired by the willow tree, which is considered one of the most graceful trees. The willow tree’s free-swinging branches gave the name its meaning.

What is the Origin of the Name Willow?

Willow derives from the Old English word “welig,” also meaning “willow.”

Willow trees were believed to be magic in many cultures, with branches that swung in the wind in ways no other trees could. During storms, raindrops seep down these branches, giving the trees a “weeping” effect (1).

Willow as a name was first introduced to Britain in the 11th century. Willow was mainly used as a last name for most of its history, usually signifying someone who lived near willow trees.

In the 1800s, the popularity of gardening and botany made plant-inspired baby names suddenly popular. The trend of naming baby girls after plants helped Willow to gain popularity.

How Popular is the Name Willow?

Willow has not been a very common name in the United States until more recently.

Before 2000, Willow was not in the top 1000 most popular names for a baby girl in the United States. But since 2000, the name has steadily gained in popularity.

Willow was the 39th most common name of all baby girls born in 2021, its highest ranking yet (2).

Recently, Willow can be considered a trendy name.

How Do I Pronounce Willow?

Willow as a name is pronounced just the same as when pronounced as the tree; the proper pronunciation is WILL-oh.

Is Willow a Boy or Girl Name?

More often, Willow is a name for a girl. However, there are many instances of the name being used for boys, meaning that the name is unisex.

More than 99% of all people with the first name Willow are female. It is more common in other places (for example, England) to name boys and girls Willow.

It has been used as a surname for people of all genders, but when used as a first name, it is primarily for girls, with a minority of cases being given to boys.

Variations of Willow

Though Willow is the most popular spelling of the name, there are a few variations:

  • Willoh
  • Wilow
  • Wyllow
  • Willo

Nicknames for Willow

Willow makes some adorable nicknames, which we know is very important when thinking of a cute baby name. Try out some of these great nicknames for your baby Willow:

  • Will
  • Willa
  • Willy
  • Lo
  • Lolo
  • Wills
  • Lola

Similar Names to Willow

If you find the name Willow appealing but don’t feel that it’s exactly the right fit for your baby girl, you can try some similar variations instead.

For example, if you like the plant-inspired name trend, try:

Or, if you like names that start with W, you could also think about:

  • Wanda
  • Waverly
  • Wendy
  • Wesley
  • Whitney
  • Wiley
  • Winona
  • Winter
  • Wrenly
  • Wynn

And if you want something that looks or sounds similar to Willow, these are some of the best options:

  • Harlow
  • Indigo
  • Irma
  • Ivy
  • Margo
  • Shiloh
  • Stella
  • Wiley
  • Willa
  • Winter

Middle Names for Willow

We also know it’s important to find a good middle name that sounds nice when paired with Willow. We’ve found some of the best options and compiled them for you here:

Sibling Names for Willow

If you already have a sweet baby Willow, you might want to learn which names sound and look best when paired with Willow.

If so, we’ve found the perfect sibling names for you:

For a Brother:

For a sister:

Famous People Named Willow

Willow is a given name for many famous people, and some of the most notable are:

  • Willow Geer: American actress.
  • Willow Palin: Sarah Palin’s daughter.
  • Willow Shields: American actress.
  • Willow Smith: American singer, actress, dancer, and daughter of Will and Jada.

Willow in Popular Culture

Willow has also been used on fictional characters as well. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Willow Rosenberg: a fictional character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Willow Ufgood: a fictional character from the movie Willow.

Willow FAQs

Is Willow an Old-Fashioned Name?

The use of the name Willow originated in the late 1800s, but it has become much more popular in the 21st century, so it’s technically both old-fashioned and modern at the same time!

Who Has a Daughter Named Willow?

The famous rock singer, Pink, named her daughter Willow in 2011. The name was a popular topic in articles, lauding Pink for choosing a unique and beautiful name.

Is Willow a Boy’s or Girl’s Name?

Willow can be both a boy’s and a girl’s name. It has been used for both boys and girls historically, but the more common gender for the name is girls.

Does Willow Mean Freedom?

Yes, the name Willow has a loose meaning of freedom since the name is inspired by the untamed, free-flowing willow tree of the same name.

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