14/08/2014 13:00 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

William - The Meaning, Origin And Other Facts About The Name

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The name William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm, which is composed of two elements: wil meaning will or desire and helm meaning helmet or protection.

After the Norman conquest in 1066 the name William became extremely popular as many English boys were named after William the Conquer, the first Norman king of England.

In fact William soon became the most popular boy's name in England and has remained common right up until the present day - it was the ninth most popular name given to baby boys born in 2012.

Famous people called William:
Prince William, British royal
Will Smith, actor and singer
William Shatner, actor, singer (born William Adams)
William H. Macy, actor
William Baldwin, actor
Will Ferrell, comedian and actor
William Dafoe, actor
Will Young, singer
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft (born William Henry Gates III)
Liam Gallagher, singer Oasis (born William John Paul Gallagher)
Billy Ray Cyrus, singer and Miley Cyrus's father (born William Ray Cyrus)
Bill Nighy, actor (born William Francis Nighy)
Flavor Flav, rapper (born William Jonathan Drayton Jr.)
Bill Murray, actor (born William James Murray)
Billy Connolly, comedian (born William Connolly)
Bill Clinton, US President (born William Jefferson Blythe III)
William Brown, the title character of the Just William series by Richmal Crompton
Willliam Wordsworth, poet
William Shakespeare, playwright
William Wallace, leader of 13th century Scottish rebellion

Can be shortened to: Will, Bill, Billy, Willie, Willy, Liam

Surnames to avoid pairing William with:

Any that you wouldn't want to put the word 'will' before. For instance, the surname Knot. Or if your surname is Way, it may elicit jokes about 'where there's a will, there's a way.' Also, watch out if your surname is Board, as the shortening 'Bill' could prove a tiresome combination.

Surnames beginning with an 'M' might cause problems too, as when said aloud this combination of sounds may result in elision – when two words slurred together end up sounding like one.

Similar names:
Wilber, Wilbert, Wilfred

Feminine variants:
Willamina, Wilda, Wileen, Wilfreda, Willa, Willette, Willow, Wilma

Celebrities who named their baby William:
Billy Bob Thornton, actor
Christopher Reeve, actor
Colin Firth, actor
Kirstie Alley, actor
Mel Gibson, actor