Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Will

Will is the English short form of William. William is an Old French name of Germanic origin. The name is derived from the Germanic word “wil” which translates to “will, desire” added to “helm” which means “helmet, protection.” Put them together, you’ve got a desire to protect; thus, the name William has come to stand for a “valiant protector”. William is by far the most successful and enduring of all the Old French names of Germanic origin. The name William was brought to England by way of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Ironically, the leader of the pack was William the Duke of Normandy, who later became William the Conqueror – and, of course, after his successful invasion, became King of England. Not only did his reign carry Norman-French culture to England, but it also brought an almost immediate impact to the English language and an abrupt shift in naming practices. Gone were the days of names like Drogo, Aethelred and Radulf. The defeated Anglo-Saxons wanted to assimilate. Very quickly, the name William hit the charts where it has stayed for almost a millennium. Many short forms have developed from Bill to Billy, Will to Willie, not to mention Liam. Due to the endurance and popularity of William among English speakers, it’s no surprise that all of these pet forms have developed into independently given names in their own right. Aside from Will’s clear connection to William, “will” is also the English vocabulary word for determination and resolve. The Olde English (Germanic) word “wyllan” meaning “wish, desire” began to be used separately from “shall” to differentiate the desire from the obligation. A “will” is also a written document expressing how a person wishes to distribute their property upon death.

All About the Baby Name – Will

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME WILL

The Number 2 personality in numerology is all about cooperation and balance. It's the number of diplomats and mediators. They are not leaders, but strive rather for harmony in partnerships. These are the peacemakers. Equality and fairness are important in their dealings, and they are willing to share power and responsibility to achieve a harmonious outcome. This personality is calm and patient, waiting for things to evolve instead of pushing aggressively for an outcome. They are good-natured and easy-going, and care deeply on an emotional and spiritual plane. Twos appreciate beauty and nature and are intent on making the world a better place.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME WILL

As a stand-alone given name Will was surprisingly popular in the late 19th century (which is as far back as we have available data). In 1880, for instance, Will was the 27th most commonly used boy’s name in America (that same year William was ranked #2). By the early 1900s, however, Will dropped off the Top 100 list and continued his decline throughout the 20th century. Now it appears as if Will is evening out at lower levels of moderation. Since there are several short forms for William from which to choose, we would recommend going with William and giving your son all of those options as he grows older (and you can call him whatever YOU want until he’s ready to make that choice). Despite our suggested advice that parents just stay with the traditional, we still understand the appeal of Will by himself. The name conjures up some of that spirited determination known as “will power”. Will is easier to say than William and more grown-up than Willie. And he doesn’t have that Irish-wannabe quality of Liam. Not to mention Bill and Billy feel more outdated. So we definitely give you two-thumbs up on your nickname choice but we still prefer the dignified William above all his “pets”. Then again, where there’s a “Will”, there’s a way.

Quick Facts

ON WILL

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

740

PRONUNCIATION:

WILL

SIMPLE MEANING:

Valiant Protector; determination

Characteristics

OF WILL

Cooperative

Considerate

Compassionate

Nurturing

Sensitive

Patient

Loving

Kind

Gracious

Balanced

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Will

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME WILL

Will Scarlet is one of Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men, those stalwart fellows of Sherwood Forest who stole from the rich to give to the poor, or so legend from the fifteenth century onward would have it. Will Scarlet was an early and very important member of the “gang”. Many stories of origin posit him as a nephew to Robin Hood. Will is often characterized as a young, hot-headed and impulsive teen, with a tendency to be an elegant dandy (he likes to wear red silk). He is also a fine swordsman and a dashing ladies’ man. All in all, an upstanding member of a revered group, second in importance to Robin only after Little John.

Popular Songs

ON WILL

Anne You Will Sing
a song by The Promise Ring

Sonny Say You Will
a song by Alannah Myles

Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
a song by Nirvana

Famous People

NAMED WILL

William “Will” Rogers (early American entertainer)
Willard "Will" Smith (actor)
John William “Will” Ferrell (comic/actor)
William “Will” Arnett (comedic actor)
William “Will” Clark (baseball player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED WILL

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Will

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME WILL

Will (William) Adair Rogers was a hugely popular American humorist, most recognizable in his persona as a cowboy, who appeared on the stage, in motion pictures and on the radio during the teens, the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, he hit the lecture circuit both at home and abroad, as well as writing a weekly newspaper column, all the while dispensing homespun political and social wisdom. Will Rogers was born in Oklahoma into a Cherokee Nation family, and soon established himself as a kind of “everyman” for the masses, the symbol of the American dream in which the self-made man may rise to the top. Will Rogers provided a link to an earlier time of perceived innocence in America, an image that he artfully drew and built upon throughout his career. As an advocate for the aviation industry, he was flying in Alaska with aviator Wiley Post in 1935, when their plane crashed, killing both men. Will Rogers was mourned by the nation. His most famous dictum was “I never met a man I didn’t like.” We venture no man ever met Will Rogers and didn’t like him.