From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pronunciation /ˈl.əm/ LEE-əm
Gender Male
Word/name France and Ireland
Meaning Desire, Guardian, Helmet, Protector, Boss
Region of origin France and Ireland
Other names
Related names William, Wilhelm, Will, Bill, Gwilym, Guillermo (Latin form)[1]

Liam is a short form of the Irish name "Uilliam", itself a derivative of the Frankish, "Willahelm". The original name was a merging of the Old German elements, vila[2] ("will" or "resolution") and helma ("helmet"), and therefore, means "helmet of will" and "Guardian".[3] When the Frankish Empire was divided into two parts, the name developed differently in each region. In the French half, Willahelm developed first into "Guilielm", and then into "Guillaume", while the German developed into "Wilhelm".

Sometimes, this name can be a shortened form of William.[citation needed]


Although Willahelm and Guillaume were well known in England prior to 1066, through Saxon dealings with Guillaume, Duc de Normandie, it was viewed as a "foreign" name. The Norman Conquest had a dramatic effect on English names. Many, if not most Saxon names, such as Ethelred, died out under the massive influx of French ones. Since the Royal Court now rang with names such as Alain, Guy, Aeginald and William,[4] they were quickly adopted by the English, the Welsh, and eventually the Irish.

Within a generation, the "new" names had become so completely assimilated that they were regarded as homegrown, and variant forms evolved and thrived alongside one another. In Wales, both William and Gwilym became popular, as did the short forms Wil and Gwil, and almost every village had its own Gwilym Williams (the final "s" represented "son of" or "descendant of"). The Norman conquest of Ireland followed a similar pattern to that of England a century earlier. Within a generation, the Irish Uilliam was found alongside William, and the short form of both was Liam.[5]

21st century[edit]

According to the Office for National Statistics, Liam was the 2nd most popular baby name in the UK in 2013, after being the 22nd most popular baby name in 2008 and the 6th most popular baby name in 2012.[6]

In other languages[edit]

In Arabic, the word لِئْم, with a pronunciation equivalent to the Irish name Liam, means "harmony in opinion or feeling".[7]

In Persian, the word لیام is the name of a plant in southern part of Iran, means "protector and supporter".

In Hebrew, the name Liam can be spelled two different ways with the same meaning of "My Nation" or "My People": לִיעַם or לִיאַם.[8] לִיעַם is also an acronym for "לא ידע עמי מלחמה" meaning "My nation will not know war."[9] However, ליאם is most often used when referencing the more common English/Irish name, while ליעם is usually used when emphasising the Hebrew roots, but this isn't hard and fast.



  1. ^ Staff (2004–2012). "Guillaume". Think Baby Names. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2012). "helmet". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Sean Crist. "Search results". Germanic Lexicon Project. Germanic Lexicon Project. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ A Revised History of Names in Britain
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^