William is one of the most popular names around! In America, it ranks #5 nationally, but ranks #1 in D.C., Utah, Montana, and every Southern state except Florida. Interestingly Liam, an Irish nickname for William, ranks even higher on the national level. Liam comes in at #2, and ranks #1 in more states than the overall #1, Noah (which is probably only first because of California and Texas). William also ranks highly in other English-speaking countries, and is currently the most popular boys’ name in all of Scandinavia. That tidbit is especially curious when you consider that Scandinavian languages share their own form of the name (Vilhelm), yet speakers apparently prefer the English cognate!
Besides near-universal popularity, the name William also boasts longevity. The Normans brought it from France to England in 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded and became king. However, the name predates even that date. One earlier William that comes to mind is William of Septimania, born in 826 AD. He’s not particularly important on his own, but his mother Dhuoda addressed a book to him (incidentally, she’s the only female writer of the Carolingian era whose work survives!). Nor was he the first William in his family. Ultimately, this name has existed for at least 1200 years!
Those 1200 years of Williams are continuous and plentiful. The name belongs to four U.S. Presidents, four (eventually five) English kings and more PMs, Shakespeare, saints, writers, actors, athletes, etc. You will encounter Williams in every profession. In America at least, William is popular in every age group too; it’s never been outside the top 20.
Why use a name that’s popular in every age group? William certainly is ubiquitous and wizened. But, parents, let me say this: William is timeless; tried-and-true. He never sounds too old-fashioned or too new. The only thing that really changes with age is the freshness of the nicknames that accompany William. Few children will answer to Bill or Willie, I think. The young Williams I know are mostly called William or Liam. Maybe Will or Billy.
What do you think of the name William?