William Name Meaning

A stalwart for many centuries, William is among the most classic names for boys around the world. Meaning “helmet” or “protection,” William is a strong name with a distinct air of masculinity. It’s a solid boys’ name rich in history.

Though an old Germanic moniker, William first rose to popularity in the English language in the 11th century. Since, William has been adopted by many important individuals, including prominent figures like William Shakespeare, Will Smith, royals akin to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, as well as four former presidents of the United States.

With many derivatives, those named William may answer to a wide range of nicknames. Today, however, the formal William is much more popular than shortened versions like Will, Willy, Bill, or Billy. In the United Kingdom and British territories, Wills is the preferred nickname for William.

Though the short forms my fall in and out favor, William is one boys’ name that’s here to stay. It’s an excellent choice for parents who show preference toward classic boys’ names, as it has maintained consistent popularity in the United States throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Female forms of the name William include Willa, Wilhelmina, Willamette, Wilma, and Billie.

Infographic of William name meaning, which is Meaning a willing protector, William is a powerful classic name with a rich history.
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William Name Popularity

How popular is the name William? Here’s everything we know.

  • In 2018 William was the 3rd most popular boys name, representing 1.0566% of boy births in the U.S.

  • Since 1910 William has been the 5th most popular boys name, representing 2.6029% of boy births in the U.S.

Year Rank # Births % Births
1910 3 8,844 2.5119%
1911 2 10,593 2.8447%
1912 2 19,626 3.8918%
1913 2 23,538 4.1515%
1914 2 29,753 4.2693%
1915 2 38,564 4.2446%
1916 2 40,419 4.1842%
1917 2 42,423 4.2405%
1918 2 45,290 4.2199%
1919 2 43,972 4.1993%
1920 2 50,147 4.5101%
1921 3 51,862 4.5292%
1922 3 51,117 4.5883%
1923 3 52,135 4.6548%
1924 3 53,515 4.6084%
1925 3 53,303 4.7159%
1926 4 51,919 4.7204%
1927 4 51,482 4.6509%
1928 4 49,111 4.59%
1929 4 47,809 4.6157%
1930 4 47,259 4.5242%
1931 4 43,269 4.384%
1932 4 42,114 4.2627%
1933 4 39,045 4.1909%
1934 4 40,168 4.1552%
1935 4 40,195 4.1362%
1936 4 39,387 4.0888%
1937 4 40,709 4.1313%
1938 4 42,422 4.1439%
1939 4 42,078 4.1366%
1940 4 44,770 4.2121%
1941 4 47,786 4.2458%
1942 4 54,879 4.3459%
1943 4 55,899 4.2819%
1944 4 52,364 4.2251%
1945 4 50,211 4.1171%
1946 4 60,039 4.0689%
1947 4 66,986 4.0129%
1948 4 61,964 3.8816%
1949 4 61,501 3.8232%
1950 6 60,690 3.7693%
1951 6 62,780 3.7028%
1952 6 63,059 3.6125%
1953 6 61,799 3.4918%
1954 6 61,420 3.3599%
1955 6 59,955 3.2595%
1956 6 58,934 3.1204%
1957 6 56,829 2.9533%
1958 6 54,195 2.8675%
1959 7 51,364 2.7034%
1960 7 49,354 2.6048%
1961 7 48,003 2.5426%
1962 7 44,858 2.4434%
1963 7 44,478 2.4778%
1964 7 44,242 2.5134%
1965 6 40,132 2.4541%
1966 6 38,260 2.4505%
1967 6 37,621 2.4791%
1968 6 36,958 2.4613%
1969 6 37,633 2.4428%
1970 7 38,910 2.445%
1971 7 35,432 2.3579%
1972 9 30,532 2.2417%
1973 9 28,021 2.1614%
1974 10 26,993 2.0768%
1975 10 25,571 1.9899%
1976 11 24,447 1.8968%
1977 12 24,770 1.8376%
1978 13 24,187 1.799%
1979 13 24,701 1.7518%
1980 14 25,652 1.7544%
1981 15 24,804 1.6874%
1982 15 25,599 1.7131%
1983 16 25,391 1.7206%
1984 16 24,901 1.6739%
1985 16 24,604 1.621%
1986 15 24,328 1.6117%
1987 15 24,199 1.5858%
1988 16 24,122 1.5479%
1989 15 24,670 1.5288%
1990 16 24,892 1.5018%
1991 19 23,865 1.4641%
1992 20 23,066 1.4451%
1993 18 22,208 1.4245%
1994 19 21,488 1.4002%
1995 20 20,158 1.3375%
1996 18 20,540 1.3718%
1997 19 20,017 1.3534%
1998 14 20,831 1.3918%
1999 14 20,708 1.3828%
2000 11 20,659 1.3524%
2001 10 20,099 1.3339%
2002 11 20,122 1.3428%
2003 11 19,989 1.3139%
2004 8 20,223 1.3268%
2005 11 19,050 1.246%
2006 10 18,955 1.2105%
2007 8 18,881 1.1967%
2008 8 18,388 1.1897%
2009 5 17,914 1.1986%
2010 5 17,048 1.183%
2011 3 17,339 1.217%
2012 5 16,880 1.1846%
2013 5 16,633 1.1683%
2014 5 16,809 1.1537%
2015 5 15,889 1.092%
2016 3 15,739 1.0916%
2017 3 14,904 1.0679%
2018 3 14,516 1.0566%

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Data via SSA.gov.


Names Like William

If you like William, you’ll love these other names like William.


What names are diminutives of William?

A diminutive is a name that’s like William sounds, you might also like these names that sound like William, but shorter.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender
Bill

A diminutive form of William.

English

#1,950 (0.0014%)  
Bille

Will helmet, protection

German

Billie

Will helmet, protection

German

Billy

Will helmet, protection

German

#812 (0.0151%)  
Liam

Helmet of will

Irish

#1 (1.4439%)  
Wiley

Crafty

English

#1,401 (0.0041%)  
Wilkie

Will helmet, protection

German

Will

Desiring peace; will helmet, protection

German

#860 (0.0133%)  
Willi

Will helmet, protection

German

Willie

English

#844 (0.014%)  
Willkie

Will helmet, protection

German

Wills

Will helmet, protection

German

Willy

Will helmet, protection

German

#2,233 (0.0009%)  
Wim

Will helmet, protection

German


What names are variants of William?

Mix it up with these names that are a variation of the name William.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender
Guglielmo

Will helmet, protection

German

Guillaume

Will helmet, protection

German

Guillermo

Will helmet, protection

German

#728 (0.0191%)  
Vilhelm

Will helmet, protection

German

Villem

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilek

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilhelm

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilhelmus

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilkes

“The melancholy one,” from the Anglo-Saxon wolcen, a cloud.

English

#2,470 (0.0005%)  
Wilkinson

Son of little Will

English

Willem

Will helmet, protection

German

#1,697 (0.0023%)  
Willhelmus

Will helmet, protection

German

Williams

Will helmet, protection

German

#1,819 (0.0017%)  
Williamson

Will helmet, protection

German

Willis

“The son of Will(iam ),” based on Will (diminutive of William) and is (his).

English

#2,753 (0.0004%)  
Willson

Will helmet, protection; son of William

German

Wilmer

Strong desire

German

#1,426 (0.0039%)  
Wilmot

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilmott

Will helmet, protection

German

Wilson

Son of William

English

#609 (0.0277%)  

What names sound like William?

If you like how William sounds, you might also like these names that sound like William.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender
Wickam

From the village meadow

English

Wilber

Bright will

German

#1,938 (0.0015%)  
Wilberforce
Wilbert

Bright will

German

Wilberto

Bright will

German

Wilbur

Bright will

German

Wilder

Hunter

German

#511 (0.0364%)  
Wilford

Willow-ford

English

Willard

Strong desire

English


What names are similar to William?

Find a name that’s like William, but just a little bit different.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender
Benjamin

A favorite son

Hebrew

#6 (0.974%)  
Christopher

Bearing Christ

English

#42 (0.5285%)  
George

Farmer

Greek

#127 (0.2221%)  
James

Supplanter

English

#4 (0.9844%)  
John

God is gracious

Hebrew

#27 (0.6637%)  
Joseph

Jehovah will increase

Hebrew

#23 (0.6955%)  
Matthew

Gift of God

Hebrew

#20 (0.7223%)  
Michael

Who is Like God?

Hebrew

#14 (0.8458%)  
Oliver

Olive tree

English

#5 (0.9745%)  
Robert

Bright fame

German

#71 (0.3741%)  

Lists With William

Find inspiration in these baby boy name lists featuring the name William.


Siblings of William

Mamas with kids named William also have kids with these names.

Name Meaning Origin Popularity Other Gender
Lane

English

#1,918 (0.0025%)  
Noah

To rest

Hebrew

#2 (1.3296%)  
Hudson

Son of Hudd

English

#54 (0.476%)  
Kylie

Boomerang

Aboriginal

#122 (0.1747%)  
Jordyn

To descend

Hebrew

#162 (0.1253%)  
Jubilee

Ram's horn

Hebrew

#1,187 (0.0084%)  
Joy

Happiness

Latin

#344 (0.062%)  
Marie

A French form of Mary.

French

#548 (0.0354%)  
Elizabeth

God is my oath

Hebrew

#13 (0.6196%)  
Faith

Devotion

English

#120 (0.1771%)  
Taylor

Tailor; to cut

French

#529 (0.0349%)  
Reece

Enthusiasm

Welsh

#582 (0.0306%)  
Grace

Gracious one

English

#24 (0.4894%)  
Josef

Jehovah increases

Hebrew

#1,543 (0.0031%)  
Charlie

Free man

English

#215 (0.1242%)  
Brielle

God is my strength

French

#98 (0.2118%)  
Hallie

A variant spelling of Hally.

Scandinavian

#435 (0.048%)  
Isabella

Devoted to God

Italian

#4 (1.0528%)  
Ezra

Help

Hebrew

#59 (0.4367%)  
Ryann

King

Irish

#712 (0.0227%)  
David

Beloved

Hebrew

#22 (0.7058%)  
Robert

Bright fame

German

#71 (0.3741%)  
Aliya

Rising, ascending

Hebrew

#832 (0.0181%)  
Madlyn

Woman from Magdala

Hebrew

Wendy

Friend

English

#918 (0.0151%)  

22 Comments

  1. William is a wonderful name that his father picked out hes a handsome growing 9 month old I love him to the moon and back he is my first little bundle of joy hes so smart and already crawling and I’m sure he will be walking soon .. because he is already standing him self up on things I love my little william and there in nothing or no one in this world that can change the way I feel about him ?

  2. William is a name I just liked. It is also a family name on mine plus my husbands side. It also has a good strong meaning, protector.

  3. I picked the name William because I loved the meaning behind it (willful warrior). It also happens to be my stepfathers name.
    I don’t dislaike it at all, if I did I wouldn’t have picked it.

  4. I pick William because I love the name. William is 5 months old and he loves to talk a lot.

  5. Named after my Dad- his middle name

  6. The reason why I picked William is because of my dead grandpa

  7. I chose the name William because it was my grandfather’s name which he was the first person to touch me as baby and now he has passe away. I feel that the name William is a great way to honor him. William also has the meaning resolute protector so there fore my son’s name is very strong.

  8. It’s my daddy middle name and we love the name

  9. William is my stepson. He got his name from his father and a long line of second born men In his family. He has such an amazing spirit and is such a sweet boy. Loves his baby sister.

  10. Mum late father was William, my husband is William and my husbands fathers middle name was William so we wanted to use a name that meant something to us and I think William is a strong British name.

  11. Our first son, William, is 9 years old. His name was chosen from a long family line of William’s that dates back to the 17th century.

  12. William was named after his great grandfather!

  13. He is named William because he is the 4th William in his family. It’s a easy name.

  14. He’s named after his father.

  15. It was a family name. I love it because it is a strong name and it belonged to someone my husband loved.
    Mr. Will is a such a happy little man, I could imagine our life without him .

  16. We chose the name because he’s the 4th generation William James McAuley IV. ask basically just family tradition. We love the name because it’s traditional and suits our little boy’s personality. We also decided against using any of the common nicknames for William.

  17. My husband and i chose william cause its a strong name and its also my father inlaws name and it went well with his middle name allen whos after my deceased grandfather

  18. William is our sons middle name, named after his Great-grandfather

  19. It was my husband?s idea. He is a theologian, and when we got married almost 7 years ago, he was studying in Tyndale Theological Seminary named after William Tyndale. He then said that if we get a boy one day, he will be William. And so, 5 years later, William was born!
    I love the name. We don?t call him with nicknames. It is a classic, royal name and it is just a perfect name for our son.

  20. My family values names highly. Me and my siblings are all named for family and our names have deep roots in our heritage. I wanted to carry on that naming tradition in my own family. My husband’s grandfather was named William. Sadly, I never got to meet him, but have been told amazing stories of the great man he was. My great grandmother is named Willie. She has always hated her name, but wanted someone in the family to be named William as kind of a namesake for her. Also, her husband nicknamed her Sweet William after the flower. So with those two family members in mind, we chose the name for our son.

  21. Nickname Will

  22. William came about because my Husband’s godfather is named William and we wanted to honor him by naming one of our boys after him. William’s middle name is also in honor of someone close to us. All of our boys are named after someone we love and respect.


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