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Normal topics suspended for the A to Z Challenge. It's all books from April 1-30.

If you're here from the A to Z Challenge hoping I'll comment back if you comment first: Sorry to disappoint, but that probably won't happen. I work full-time and I grad school full-time, so I can't give the time to blog commenting that I would like. I'll visit after the end of the semester, I hope.

02 April 2012

B is for Bill(y)

If I did a series on names and didn't include my siblings, I would almost certainly hear about it later. Ta-daa: The Billy post.

I hear my brother goes by Bill these days. He's actually the fifth of the Billy line (if he were as interested in Shakespeare as I am, he would go around telling people, "I am the youngest of that name." But he isn't.), and when I was a kid, I could never understand why my dad's siblings all called him 'Billy' when the rest of the world called him 'Bill'. As with so many other things, all has become clear. Billy is their proper name, by the way: Our family has a curious habit of giving nicknames as proper names. None of this 'William' stuff for us.

There's no way I was going to pass
this up. Source.
For the longest time, I thought people weren't allowed to be called Billy if they weren't related to me (in addition to my direct line going back four generations, I also have an uncle (mum's brother) and a couple of great-uncles called Billy). Lo and behold, I finally managed to meet some more Bills and Billys when I moved to Scotland; the minister who was my mentor for two years is called Billy, and overall it just seems to be a more common name in Britain. However, I may have reached the peak of Bill-meeting last semester, when there was a Bill in Every Single One of my classes. Seriously, I thought someone was playing a joke on me that first week. And to top it off, there were two Bills, plus one William (who goes by his middle name, but still!) in my creative writing class. I've found all the Bills: They're hiding at UT.

Billy
Short form of William, meaning "resolute protector" (quick mental rundown of the ones I know-- yep, I agree), and the change from W to B at the beginning may be an Irish thing. Plenty of variations in plenty of languages. Peaked in popularity (in the U.S.) in the 1920s, when it was the 20th most popular boy's name.

Billy's the one in the suit.
Also, do not be deceived
by this pic: Both my siblings
are quite a bit taller than I.
We were standing on a slope.
Famous Billys: Billy Crystal, Billy Idol... you know what, I'll let you take it from here.

Fictional Billys: Billy Elliot, Billy the Blue Power Ranger, Billy Madison.

My Billys: Pretty much covered, except I have no characters called Billy or Bill. I do have a William on my WIP character list, but the odds of him getting into the story? Not good. I don't use any family names, in fact, after a lifetime of family reunions where you could call one name and five people would yell "What?" back.

Do you know any Billys? Bills? Famous ones you wish I'd mentioned?

Sources:
Behind the Name
Baby Name Wizard

21 comments:

Jenni at talking hairdryer said...

Bill Cosby...he might be my favorite famous one

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

He wasn't famous but my grandpa was a Bill ( William ).

Julie Daines said...

Interesting post. I didn't know Bill was such a common name.

Kittie Howard said...

My great uncle's name was Bill. And there's Bill Clinton. Think Billy Crystal would flop as Bill Crystal. Lovely B post!

MAJK said...

William Arthur "Bill" Weasley the eldest of child of Arthur and Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter Series.

Though my favorite "Bill" is my Daddy :) My step-father who double as my best friend until my husband came along.

*~MAJK~*
Safireblade.com
A to Z Blog Challenge

Kaye Draper said...

Cute! I love your blogging topic. I'm a fan of "William". Randomness: when trying to think of a Billy, Billy Black popped into my head. I had no idea where this name came from. Had to google it. Ah... right, Twilight (see, random). Must add, Gil Birmingham (a.k.a.) is a beautiful man :)
Enjoy the A to Z! :)

DL Hammons said...

One of the characters in my most recent book is named Billy! :)

mshatch said...

I have a nephew, William (Will) and one of my brothers' first name is also William (though we never call him by it). No characters named William. Liked Billy Eilliot :)

JEFritz said...

Hm, I went to school with a Will and have a second cousin named Will...but no Bills or Billys. At least, none that I can think of. Weird. I wonder if it's falling out of popularity.

Su said...

I'm loving all the Billy/Bill/Will/Williams that everyone knows! :)

Wendy LaPlaca said...

Not that Bill isn't a good name, but I agree that it's best to stay away from common or familiar names in your WIP :)

Jenn said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!! I enjoyed your post and it brought a smile to my face.

Why?

I have a cousin, who is like my older brother, and he has always been "Billy". I always thought with all his mischievous ways the name suit him well. He definitely wasn't a "Bill" and no where near a "William" For short, we sometimes come him "Trouble" --although he kept trying to convince me that was his middle name. I swear it could be his first!! LOL.

Great post on Bill(y).

Cheers, Jenn
http://www.wine-n-chat.com

Lynn said...

Great B post - focusing on your brother's name.

Lynn #148 in the challenge.

Tara Tyler said...

my hub! whose nick name is 'danger' (wil robinson!)
and
billy the kid and little bill (cosby, nick jr show)

Su said...

More good ones. :)

The Writing Goddess said...

My first kiss was a Billy. Or a Tommy - they were brothers, and we were playing wedding. They took turns being the minister and the groom.

Fun info, thanks for sharing.

Karen Peterson said...

I know several Bills. I can think of 5 off the top of my head. Only one is a relative.

m. ball said...

you and I both wrote about names for B! I wrote about Bob - lots of Bobs in the world too! Great minds think alike. :-)

Su said...

Lots of love for Bill! And Bob, it seems. :)

Jennie Townsend said...

He tries to go by Bill but the world won't let him. Except when I call the insurance company and they argue with me like I don't know my own husbands legal name given to him at birth. And I don't know if I missed it. Did you miss your uncle billy?

Jennie Townsend said...

Nevermind. I saw it.

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