The Origin of the Name Liam

Updated on December 3, 2019

James likes to learn about technology and share what he learns through his articles.

The Name Liam

Generally, Liam is an Irish name. The most interesting thing about the name Liam is that of its long roots in the Germanic culture.
Generally, Liam is an Irish name. The most interesting thing about the name Liam is that of its long roots in the Germanic culture.


The origin of the name Liam goes back before 1000 A.D. where the two old German words "willa" and "helma" were combined. Willa meant of will or resolution, while helma meant helmet. Together the name means "guardian" or "helmet of will." Later, when the Frankish Empire was divided, variations of the name started to emerge. In Francia, Willelm developed, and later took the form Willaume. Later, it took on another transformation into Guillaume. This Willaume form, which is known as the Norman form, was later formed into William by the English.

Willahelm and Guillaume were known as regular names in England before 1066, but they were still thought of as foreign names. This was the time of the Norman conquest where there was a massive adoption of French names that led to the extinction of some English names. That same year of 1066, the name William came to be a name in the Royal Court of England as William I took the throne in England. The William and short form Wil became very popular a generation after the Norman Conquest. This same pattern of the name use of William followed in Ireland with the Norman Conquest of Ireland.

Later in Ireland, the Irish name Uilliam was found beside the name William and created the short form of Liam. The name wasn’t known to be used outside of Ireland until close to the 19th century. The name gained more popularity internationally after the Great Famine when 1.5 million people left Ireland. Surprisingly, England really didn’t start adopting the name Liam until the Early 1930’s. You would think since so many migrants fled to England after 1850 that the name would've become more common by the 20th Century.

Liam Is Shorthand for Willima and Uilliam

Liam is merely of variation of two names (William & Uilliam) that came from the same root name.
Liam is merely of variation of two names (William & Uilliam) that came from the same root name.

Modern-Day Poplularity of Liam

In the United States, Liam has become a very popular name as it did in the United Kingdom. It was in the top 50 names in the United States by the 2009. At this time, popularity in the United Kingdom started to decline at a steady pace but it was in the top 33 most popular names there for quite some time. In 2013 Liam was ranked number 2 in the United States while popularity in the United Kingdom continued to decline year by year. Liam also made popularity in Canada when it was shown to be the most popular name for boys since 2013.

So, there you have it. Liam has quite a history and was proved to be sheltered in Ireland for the longest time. You can bet that if the Great Famine never existed Liam probably wouldn’t hold the kind of popularity that it has in society today.


Wiki. (2018, December 26). Liam. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from

Think Baby Names. (n.d.). Liam. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from

The Meaning of the Name. (n.d.). Liam. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from

© 2019 James Smith


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