Little Williams have been running around for more than 1,000 years. The name, which means "strong-willed warrior," became popular after William the Conqueror invaded England way back in 1066. William became inextricably linked to the man and the legend, and the name remains incredibly popular to this day.
Born in the year 1028, William the Conqueror was the Duke of Normandy, in France. He set his sights across the channel and conquered England to become the first Norman monarch of England. He ruled for 22 years, transforming England – and the English language – in the process.
Even today, William is the name of a boy who's destined for leadership. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is heir to the British throne. Closer to home, four presidents have been named William: Taft, McKinley, Harrison, and Clinton. Then, of course, there 's William Shakespeare, Will Smith, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy – all greats in their very different artistic pursuits.
The pronunciation of William is consistent and straightforward, which is a draw for many parents. "Will-yum," is the most common pronunciation in the United States, although some people favor "will-ee-um." If you're particularly bold you could aim for "will-i-am" like the Black Eyed Peas star.
Despite coming to England via France during the Norman conquest, the name William has Germanic roots. The original name was likely the Old High German moniker Wilhelm or Willahelm, which means "resolute protector."
Today, you can find variations of William in many European countries, including Wilhelm in Germany, Willem in the Netherlands, and Villiam in Sweden. William is Guillaume in French and Guillermo in Spanish.
The Irish twist on William – Liam – has taken the title of the top boy 's name in the United States. In 2020 it was the most popular boy's name in the U.S. for the fourth year running, according to data from the Social Security Administration.
Meanwhile, William was just slightly down the list, in slot number five. While Liam is a newcomer to the boy 's name list, William has been in the top 20 names for boys in the U.S. for more than 100 years! It was in the top five names for many of those years, but dipped down a bit from the late '70s to the late '90s. Now, William is on the upswing again.
One of the greatest things about the name William, in addition to its timelessness, is the plethora of nicknames. Boys named William can grow into their name, or use a nickname for life. Parents can choose from Will, Willy, Bill, Billy, Liam, Guy, or Gill, which stems from the French take on the name, Guillaume.
William has traditionally been a boy's name. However, if you 're looking for a feminine version or a girls' name derived from William, there are plenty of options: Wilhelmina, Willamette, Wilma, and Billie are classics. Or, you can choose a more modern version like Willow, which Will Smith named his daughter.
William is a name that bridges cultures and stands the test of time, making it perfect for the next generation of leaders.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge : Member of the British royal family
William "Bill" Clinton : 42nd President of the United States
William Shatner : Actor who played Admiral Kirk on Star Trek
Will Smith : Rapper, actor, and movie star
William Shakespeare : Famed English playwright and poet
William "Bill" Gates III : Microsoft co-founder, former richest man in the world, and philanthropist
Will Arnett : Actor known for playing Gob Bluth on Arrested Development
William "Will.i.am" James Adams, Jr. : Musician and producer best known as a member of the Black Eyed Peas
William Petersen : Actor known for playing Gil Grissom on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
William Jefferson Clinton : former US President
William Harrison : former US President
William McKinley : former US President
William Taft : former US President
William Baldwin : actor
William Campbell : golfer
William Faulkner : author
William Shatner : actor