[ 2 syll. wi-(l)liam, wil-li-am ] The baby boy name William is sometimes used as a girl name. Its pronunciation is WIHLYahM †. William is used chiefly in the English and French languages, and it is derived from Germanic origins. A two-element name, it is derived from the elements 'wil' meaning will, desire ; 'helm' helmet, protection. The name was introduced by the Normans into England. It was borne by William the Conqueror (1027-1087), the first Norman king of England. The name was adopted by the English after the conquest and became the most popular male name for a period in the Middle Ages before being overtaken by John. The name was borne by the famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616). The name was also borne by members of royalty in Germany, Netherlands, Sicily, and Albania. It was also borne by numerous members of the British royal family, including Prince William (1982-). The name Wilhelmina (Dutch, English, German, and Polish) is the female form of William.
The name William is widely used; it has 116 variants that are used in English and other languages. Variants used in English include Bille, DeWill, Guillermo (used in Spanish as well), Gwilherm, Pim, Uilliam (used in Irish as well), Wileck, Wileen, Wilek, Wilhelmus, Wilkes, Wilkie, Wilkinson, Willaim, Willam, Willard, Willeam, Willem (used in Dutch, German, and Scandinavian as well), Willhelmus, Williamon, Williams, Williamson, Willian, Willis, Willium, Williw, Willkie, Willyam, Wilmod, and Wilmodd. Other English forms include the short forms Bill (used in German as well), Liam (used in Gaelic, and Irish as well), and Will, the pet forms Billie, Billy (used in German as well), Bo, Byll, Willi (used in German as well), Willie (used in German, and Scandinavian as well), Wills, and Willy (used in German as well), and the variant spelling Wiliam.
Foreign variants of William include Giermo (Spanish), Gigermo (Spanish), Gijermo (Spanish), Gilamu (Basque), Gillermo (Spanish), Guglielmo (Italian), Guilermo (Spanish), Guilermon (Spanish), Guilherme (Portuguese), Guilielmus (Dutch), Guillamus (French), Guillaume (French), Guille (Spanish), Guillelmo (Spanish), Guillem (Catalan and Spanish), Guillerme (German), Guillermino (Spanish), Guillo (Spanish), Guirmo (Spanish), Gullermo (Spanish), Gwilim (Welsh), Gwill (Welsh), Gwilym (Welsh), Gwyllim (Welsh), Ilermo (Spanish), Jelle (Dutch), Memo (Spanish), Quillermo (Spanish), Quilliam (Gaelic), and Uilleam (Gaelic and Scottish). Specific foreign variants include the short forms Vili (Hungarian), Ville (Finnish and Scandinavian), and Wim (German).
William is a very popular baby name for boys. In 1900, 5.288% of baby boys were given the name William. Its ranking then was #2. The baby name has since fallen in popularity, and is today of moderate use. In 2015, its usage was only 0.780% and its ranking #5, but it was nonetheless the 2nd most popular after Liam, out of all boy names in its group. In 2015, it was 16% more commonly used than William. In the past century William has predominantly been a baby boy name. In 1987, baby boys named William outnumbered girls by 138 times.
Baby names that sound like William include Wallwin, Wallwyn, Wallwynn, Walwin, Walwyn, Walwynn, Waylen, Waylin, Waylon, Welwyn, Weylin, Weylyn, Whalen, Whalin, Whalon, Whelan, Wileen, Wilheim, Willeam, and Willem.
† Pronunciation for William: W as in "we (W.IY)" ; IH as in "it (IH.T)" ; L as in "lay (L.EY)" ; Y as in "you (Y.UW)" ; AH as in "mud (M.AH.D)" ; M as in "me (M.IY)"
Details of famous persons named William:
Actor William Holden, born William Franklin Beedle, Jr., 17 April 1918 - 12 November 1981, O'Fallon, Illinois.
Actor William Hurt, born 20 March 1950.
Actor William Macy, born 13 March 1950, Miami, Florida.
Actor William Petersen, born 21 February 1953, Evanston, Illinois.
Actor William Shatner, born 22 March 1931, Montreal, Canada.
Actor Broderick Crawford, born William Broderick Crawford, December 9, 1911 - April 26, 1986, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Actor Darren McGavin, born William Lyle Richardson, May 7, 1922 - February 25, 2006, Spokane, Washington.
Actor Boris Karloff, born William Henry Pratt, 23 November 1887 - 2 February 1969, Camberwell, London, England.
Adventurer William Walker, born 8 May 1824 - 12 September 1860, Nashville, Tennessee.
Author William S. Burroughs, born 5 February 1914 - 2 August 1997, St. Louis, Missouri.