|Meaning||Desire, Guardian, Helmet, Protector, Boss|
|Region of origin||Ireland|
|Related names||Wilhelm, William, Gwilym, Will, Bill, Guillaume (French form), Guillermo (Spanish form)|
Liam is a short form of the Irish name "Uilliam".
The original name was a merging of two Old German elements: willa ("will" or "resolution"); and helma ("helmet"). The juxtaposition of these elements effectively means "helmet of will" or "guardian".
When the Frankish Empire was divided, the name developed differently in each region. In Northern Francia, Willahelm developed first into "Willelm" and then into "Willaume" in Norman and Picard, and "Guillaume" in Ile-de-France French. The Norman form was further developed by the English into the familiar modern form "William".
Although the names Willahelm and Guillaume were well known in England before 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, Reginald and William, 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.
Until the end of the 18th century, Liam was virtually unknown outside Ireland. In the mid-1850s, over a million and a half people left Ireland to escape the catastrophic great famine and, from then on, Irish names were heard everywhere. Liam as an independent name in England and Wales dates from 1932, but it was mainly confined to the families of Irish descent. By 1955, it was recorded for two boys in every 10,000, a figure it maintained until 1975, when it rose to four per 10,000.
Late 20th and early 21st centuries
By 1980, it was clear that Liam was becoming a vogue name in the general population in the United Kingdom and that year it was recorded for 12 boys per 10,000. It continued to gain ground. In 1985, it stood at 20 per 10,000, and by 1990, it was recorded for 100 boys in every 10,000. In 1996, Liam peaked in popularity as the 10th most popular baby name for boys in England and Wales, according to the UK Office for National Statistics.
Liam continued to remain in the top 33 most popular boys names in the UK throughout the first decade of the 21st century but started to steadily decline in 2009.
Meanwhile, according to the Social Security Administration, Liam had been steadily gaining in popularity in the United States and entered the top 50 names for the first time in 2009 at number 49. As Liam gained popularity in the US, climbing to number two by 2013, popularity in the UK plummeted, and it ranked 67th that same year. In Canada, Liam has been the most popular boys name since 2013.
|Year||Rank in the US||Rank in the UK|
- Liam Abernethy, Irish hurler
- Liam Aiken, American actor
- Liam Anthony, Australian rules footballer for North Melbourne
- Liam Aylward, Irish politician
- Liam Brady, footballer
- Liam Byrne, British Labour Party politician
- Liam Callanan, American author
- Liam Clancy, Irish folk singer
- Liam "Rory" Clewlow, lead guitar, backing vocals for Enter Shikari
- Liam Cunningham (actor), Irish actor
- Liam Cunningham (politician), Irish politician
- Liam Darville, English footballer
- Liam Davison, Australian author
- Liam Fahy, Zimbabwean shoe designer
- Liam Finn, New Zealand musician and songwriter
- Liam Foran, New Zealand rugby league player
- Liam Fox, British politician
- Liam Fulton, Australian rugby league player
- Liam Gallagher, lead singer of the English rock bands Oasis and Beady Eye
- Liam Garrigan, English actor
- Liam Gill, Australian rugby union player
- Liam Hemsworth, Australian actor
- Liam Highfield, English professional snooker player
- Liam Howlett, DJ and member of The Prodigy
- Liam Irwin, Gaelic football player
- Liam James, Canadian child actor
- Liam Kelly (disambiguation)
- Liam Lawrence, footballer
- Liam Lynch (musician), American singer and dancer
- Liam McIntyre, Australian actor
- Liam McKenna, Irish television presenter
- Liam Miller, footballer
- Liam Neeson, Irish actor
- Liam O'Brien, American voice actor
- Liam O'Flaherty, Irish writer
- Liam O'Neill, Gaelic Athletic Association administrator
- Liam Payne, English singer and member of the British-Irish boy band One Direction
- Liam Ridgewell, footballer
- Liam Stapleton, Australian radio presenter
- Liam Waite, American actor
- Liam Walsh (hurler) (born 1963), Irish hurler
- Liam Walsh (boxer) (born 1986), English boxer
- Liam Watson (disambiguation)
- Liam Watts, drummer for the band the Enemy
- Liam Watts, English rugby player in position of prop for Hull Kingston Rovers
- Liam Weldon, Irish folk singer
- Liam Williams (rugby player), Welsh rugby player
- Liam Wilson, bass player for the Dillinger Escape Plan
- Liam Andrew Wright, British film director, screenwriter and producer
- Prince Liam of Nassau, grandson of Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
- Staff (2004–2012). "Guillaume". Think Baby Names. Thinkbabynames.com. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- Douglas Harper (2001–2012). "helmet". Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- Sean Crist. "Search results". Germanic Lexicon Project. Germanic Lexicon Project. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- François d'Eudemare (1626). "Search results". Histoire excellente et héroique du roy Willaume le bastard, jadis roy d'Angleterre & duc de Normandie.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
- A Revised History of Names in Britain
- "Release Edition Reference Tables - ONS". ons.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
- "Popular Baby Names". ssa.gov. Retrieved 2015-05-28.
- "Baby Names, England and Wales". ons.gov.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Top 100 Baby Names in Canada 2013 - Today's Parent". Today's Parent. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Top 100 Baby Names in Canada 2014 - Today's Parent". Today's Parent. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Top 100 Baby Names in Canada 2015 - Today's Parent". Today's Parent. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
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