"resolute protection"

William Origin and Meaning

The name William is a boy's name of English origin meaning "resolute protection".

William is one of the most enduring of classic names for boys. It's also among the most popular boys' names, as American parents see it as being ideally conservative yet contemporary, and hands-down the most popular baby name beginning with W of all time.

For 400 years, William has been second only to John as the most popular name in the English-speaking world. And now of course, it's also a newsy name—thanks to Britain's high-profile Prince William.

William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, "will," and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.

In terms of short forms, yesterday's Bills and Billys have given way to today's Wills—or Williams, with no diminutive—though a few hip Billys, including Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton's, have surfaced recently.

But Irish spinoff Liam is the most stylish William nickname and has now superseded William, becoming the most popular boy name in America. Riding the William bandwagon is the Dutch Willem, which comes with the unique nickname Pim.

William has long reigned as a royal name in the U.K. There are tons of worthy namesakes called William, including William Shakespeare, Bill Gates and four U.S. presidents.

# 6 in the US

William Rank in US Top 1000

# 61 on Nameberry

William Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

William Popularity

20 Names Similar to William

These 20 names were selected by our users that were looking for other names like William.

Famous People Named William

  • William I the Conquerorfirst Norman King of England
  • William IIKing of England
  • William III of OrangeKing of Great Britain and Ireland
  • William IV (William Henry)King of the United Kingdom
  • William I (Willem Frederik)King of the Netherlands
  • William II (Willem Frederik George Lodewijk)King of the Netherlands
  • William III (Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk)King of the Netherlands
  • William III, Princes of Orange
  • William IV (Willem Karel Hendrik Friso)Prince of Orange
  • William V (Willem Batavus)Prince of Orange
  • William the LionKing of Scots
  • William IIII, Kings of Sicily
  • William Arthur Philip LouisPrince of the United Kingdom; Duke of Cambridge; 2nd in line to the British throne
  • William TyndaleEnglish martyr who translated the Bible into English
  • William ShakespeareEnglish poet and writer
  • William Henry Harrison9th U.S. president
  • William McKinley25th U.S. president
  • William Howard Taft27th U.S. president
  • William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton42nd U.S. president
  • William James "Bill" O'Reilly Jr.American television host
  • William Cuthbert FaulknerAmerican novelist
  • William Temple Toddson of U.S. First Lady Dolley Madison
  • William Wallace Lincolnson of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
  • William Henry SewardAmerican politician, governor and senator from New York
  • William Bradley "Brad" PittAmerican actor
  • William "Bill" ShatnerCanadian actor
  • William Henry "Bill" GatesAmerican founder of Microsoft, Inc.
  • William WilberforceEnglish abolitionist politician
  • William Dawesrode with Paul Revere on the "Midnight Ride"
  • William Stephens Smithhusband of Abigail "Nabby" Adams, son,in,law of U.S. President John Adams
  • William "Bill" PaxtonAmerican actor
  • William Hall MacyAmerican actor
  • William Louis PetersenAmerican actor
  • William Peter MoseleyEnglish actor
  • William James "Wil" AndersonAustralian comedian
  • William Turner WaltonEnglish composer
  • William Denby "Bill" HannaAmerican cartoonist of Hanna,Barbera
  • William James Adams aka Will.I.Am.American R&B singer
  • William "Billy" Dean Martinmusician of American band Good Charlotte
  • William "Adam" West (Anderson)American actor
  • William Emerson "Will" ArnettAmerican actor
  • William Henry "Hank" GreenAmerican comedian, YouTuber and educator
  • William Justus GoebelAmerican politician, governor of Kentucky
  • William Miles "Will" DunnEnglish actor
  • William Daniel PhillipsAmerican physicist and Nobel prize winner
  • William ThomsonBritish mathematical physicist and engineer
  • William Henry Braggphysicist, mathematician & Nobel,prize winner
  • William Lawrence BraggAustralian,British physicist & Nobel prize winner
  • William John Paul "Liam" Gallagherlead singer of English band Oasis
  • William Ford GibsonAmerican novelist
  • William CaxtonEnglish printing pioneer
  • William "Bill" Haderactor/comedian/writer
  • William James Hehirbass player on band MisterWives
  • William "Will" Rankin PattonAmerican Actor
  • William Beckettlead singer of American band The Academy Is...
  • William "Billy" JoelAmerican singer/songwriter/pianist
  • William MeynardFrench swimmer
  • William Seward Burroughs IAmerican inventor
  • William Seward Burroughs IIAmerican writer
  • Olajide William "JJ" Olatunji aka KSIEnglish YouTuber
  • Richard William "Wil" WheatonAmerican actor
  • William "Bill" AndersAmerican astronaut
  • William Commonsson of Scottish Footballer Kris Commons
  • William Trueson of actress Kirstie Alley
  • William Luca CostaMarsden, son of actor James Marsden
  • William Wolf Howeyson of Sarah Shahi & Steve Howey
  • William Lawson Bates4th child (2nd son) of the reality TV show "Bringing Up Bates" family
  • William "Billy" John Kimmel (b. 2017)son of American television host, comedian, writer, and producer Jimmy Kimmel
  • William Hammington (b. 2016)son of Australian comedian Samuel Hammington
  • William Behr Jenner (b. 2019)son of Burt Jenner and Valerie Pitalo

William in Pop Culture

  • William Harold Ryan "Will" Munsoncharacter on American soap As The World Turns
  • William "Will" Halsteadcharacter on TV's Chicago Med.
  • (William) Sherlock Scott Holmesmain character on TV's "Sherlock"
  • William Aftonvillain in Five Nights at Freddy's games and book
  • William "Bill" Weasleycharacter in the Harry Potter series
  • William "Bill" Forbes IIcharacter on TV's "The Vampire Diaries", father of Caroline Forbes.
  • William "Bill" Comptoncharacter on TV's 'True Blood'
  • William Rikercharacter on TV's 'Star Trek: the Next Generation'
  • William "Will" Trumancharacter on TV's 'Will & Grace'
  • William "Will" Shuestercharacter on TV's 'Glee'
  • William "Will" Owen Herondalecharacter from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare
  • William Brownmain character in the Just William series by Richmal Crompton
  • William Birkincharacter in the video game series "Resident Evil"
  • William Bakercharacter in the Spider,Man series
  • William 'Will' Turnercharacter in the Pirates of the Caribbean series
  • William Murdochcharacter on TV's "Murdoch Mysteries"
  • William Collinsmain character in film 'Chatroom'
  • William 'Will' Gardnercharacter on TV's 'The Good Wife'
  • William 'Will' Parrycharacter in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series
  • William Scullybaby on TV's "The X,Files"
  • William "Bill" Mulderfather of Fox William Mulder of "The X,Files"
  • William Masonfootman on TV's "Downton Abbey"
  • William Townsendcharacter in "Yesterday's child" by Barbara Wood
  • William "Bill" Denbroughcharacter in "It"
  • William Buxtoncharacter on TV's "Return to Cranford"
  • William 'Will' Gorskicharacter on sense8
  • William "Will" Turnercharacter in movie/book "Me before you"
  • William Sayrecharacter in J.K. Rowling's "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
  • William the Pukwudgiecharacter in J.K. Rowling's "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
  • William Claytoncharacter on TV's "Arrow"
  • William "Penny" Adiyodicharacter in "The Magicians"
  • William Strykercharacter in "X,Men"
  • William "Will" Byerscharacter in "Stranger Things"
  • William "Will" Munnycharacter in "Unforgiven"
  • William "Billy" McMahonmain character in film "The Internship"
  • William "Bill" Cagemain character in film "Edge of Tomorrow"
  • William Scatloke (Will Scarlet) character in the King Raven Trilogy
  • William Prattbirth name of Spike, on TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel"
  • William Vanderboomcharacter in the Rusty Lake and Cube Escape series
  • William Greycharacter in the 1996 film "Independence Day" General, USMC, the head of the United States Space Command.Played by Robert Loggia , he modeled the character after World War II generals, particularly George S. Patton.
  • William “Will” Solacecharacter in the Riordanverse
  • William Pattersonfemale character on TV's "Blindspot"
  • James Ratri aka William Minervacharacter in the manga/anime series "The Promised Neverland"

William in Nameberry Blog Posts