“William” & Its Other Names From Around The World

6 March 2024
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Magnolia Tribute, William Faulkner

I once knew a person called William. And then he went by Billy. That really confused me because William and Billy sounded very different to my ears. So, one day I asked why go by Billy when you are called William. Then he explained that a person called William can also go by Billy or Billie or even Willie. That’s when I realized that William is one of those names with very playful nicknames.

The name William, meaning strong-willed warrior or resolute protector, is believed to have German origins from the name Wilhelm (with roots “wil” for will or desire + “helm” for helmet or protection). The classic name is also a variation of the Proto-Germanic name Wiljahelmaz.

Sometime in the mid-8th century, in northern France, a person called William of Gellone was born. Fun fact: William of Gellone’s a relative of Charlemagne. Sometime in 1066, the name was used by WIlliam the Conqueror or William the Bastard also known as the first Norman King of England.

But William isn’t only a name for conquerors, emperors, and kings. Because other famous and influential Williams are also out there. Here’s a short list of Williams to begin with: William Shakespeare (a playwright), William Wordsworth (a poet), William Still (an abolitionist and Father of the Underground Railroad), William Faulkner (an American writer), William Martin Joel aka Billy Joel (an American singer or the Piano Man), William Shatner (known as Kirk from Star Trek), and William Michael Albert Broad aka Billy Idol (an English-American singer).

Oh one more thing, there is also a very happy, cute Airedale Terrier called William or Willi or Wilhelm or Doofnuss. Shoutout to that happy champ, and may you always have lots of boops and floofs.

  • French: Guillaume
  • German, Polish: Wilhelm
  • Dutch: Willem, Pim, Willi, Wim
  • Limburgish: Wöllem, Wullem, Wum
  • Hawaiian: Williama
  • Breton: Gwilherm
  • Tongan: Viliami
  • Irish: Uilliam, Liam, Uilleag
  • Hungarian: Vilmos
  • Toa Batak: Billem
  • Spanish: Guillermo
  • Aragonese: Guillén
  • Basque: Guilen
  • Czech: Vilém
  • Persian: Walaam
  • Greek: Γουλιέλμος (Gouliélmos)
  • Welsh: Gwilym, Gwillym, Gwilim
  • Icelandic, Faroese: Vilhjálmur
  • Catalan: Breton
  • Scots: Weelum, Willum
  • Cornish: Wella
  • Portuguese: Guilherme
  • Japanese: Uiriamu
  • Russian: Уильям (Uilyam)
  • Turkish: Vilyam, Vilyım
  • Yiddish: Velvel
  • Italian: Guglielmo
  • Sicilian: Gugghiermu