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Updated April 16, 2024

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Boy name origins & meanings

What does the name William mean and stand for?


  • English: Strong-willed warrior
  • German/Teutonic: Valiant protector

Gender: Male

Syllables: 2

Pronunciation: The name William is pronounced wil-yum

The name William is one of the most popular boys names of all time and is of Germanic origin. The name was first introduced to England by William the Conqueror. It is a compound of two words, "wil" meaning "will or desire" and "helm" meaning "helmet, protection". 

How Popular Is The Name William

Family name origins & meanings

English: from the Norman form of an Old French personal name composed of the Germanic elements wil "will", "desire" + helm "helmet", "protection." This was introduced into England at the time of the Conquest, and within a very short period it became the most popular personal name in England, mainly no doubt in honor of the Conqueror himself.

Famous people with this first name

William in Pop Culture

Do you know these fictional characters that share the first name William?

  • William "Will" Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean - A skilled blacksmith turned pirate who plays a key role in the franchise's adventures.
  • William "Bill" Adama from Battlestar Galactica - The commanding officer of the Battlestar Galactica, deeply committed to his crew and the survival of humanity.
  • William "Billy" Batson from Shazam! - A teenager who can transform into the superhero Shazam by uttering the magical word.
  • William Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation - The capable and charismatic first officer of the USS Enterprise-D.
  • William "Will" Truman from Will & Grace - A meticulous lawyer living in New York, navigating life and friendships.

Popularity of the Name William

According to Social Security Administration data, the name William has remained a staple of classic and popular names in the United States. It has consistently secured a spot within the top 20 names for boys over the past century, demonstrating its timeless appeal. William's consistent ranking reflects its strong historical roots and widespread acceptance across generations. 

Historically, the name William has been borne by monarchs, writers, and influential figures, such as William the Conqueror, who became the first Norman King of England in 1066, and the celebrated playwright William Shakespeare. Notable Williams also include Nobel laureate William Faulkner, and actors such as William Shatner and Will Smith. 

In the realm of fiction, characters named William have appeared in a variety of media, from William "Bill" Weasley in Harry Potter to William Adama in Battlestar Galactica. This name's enduring popularity can be attributed to its royal associations, literary connections, and the flexibility it offers through nicknames like Will, Bill, and Billy.

Where Is the Name William Popular?

This name is most popular across certain states in the U.S., including those highlighted on the map below.

Nicknames for William

These shortened names can make great nicknames for your baby.

  • Bill
  • Liam
  • Will
  • Willy

William Pairs Well With These Middle Names

Looking for a middle name that fits perfectly? Consider these!

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