Celebrity Names Blog

Liam Neeson's Star Burns Brighter And So Does His Name

Liam Neeson's Star Burns Brighter And So Does His Name

Liam Neeson has proven himself in recent years to be a major box office draw, and has done it again last weekend with his newest film The Grey, which grossed nearly 20 million in its opening weekend. Just as Liam's box office revenues have been rising, so has the U.S. popularity of his name. Although it is one of several Irish names that have been climbing the charts, Liam has also been following the upward trend of Neeson's career.

Neeson has been acting since the late 70's, but his break-out roles didn't come until the early 90's, first as the sensitive husband to Mia Farrow's character in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives in 1992 and again a year later as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's Academy-Award winning film Schindler's List. The name Liam followed suit with a relatively low rank at No. 732 in the 1980's jumping to No. 246 in the 1990's.

Neeson continued to make hits and receive critical acclaim, particularly as Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 1999. Liam as well continued to climb the charts throughout the early 2000's as Neeson took roles as sensitive, empathetic characters like the 'Priest' in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and the recently widowed father in the holiday hit Love Actually.

You might think that Neeson's transformation into an actor who plays villains and action heroes might dampen enthusiasm for his name. But no. Even as he began taking on the job of the bad guy as the primary villain in Batman Begins in 2005, the name rose to the popularity rank of 103.

By 2008 the name Liam stood at No. 75 in U.S. popularity and Neeson began taking more leading roles as an action star. Interestingly, the name Liam, according to Namipedia, comes from Uilliam, which is the Irish cognate of William and means "resolute protector." This is precisely what his character Bryan Mills embodies in his 2009 box office hit Taken, in which he plays an ex-CIA operative chasing down the kidnappers of his teenage daughter. In 2010, Liam ranked its highest yet at No. 30 and if Neeson's success as a critically acclaimed actor and box office draw is any indication, the name could continue to climb the charts in the years to come.

Do you think the name Liam will continue to gain popularity?


Tagged: Liam, Liam Neeson


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February 3, 2012 1:19 PM
By Stephanie (not Steffy) (not verified)

I personally love the name Liam (it is my favorite for a boy), but I could never choose it now that it is so very popular. I think people in general are looking for names that every time their kid goes into a new class there is another kid with that name. So, maybe now that it is so popular it will start to drop.

February 3, 2012 1:27 PM
By mk (not verified)

I would have thought it was a bit higher, maybe top 20 or 25. So I do think it will continue to rise for a few more years.

February 3, 2012 7:32 PM
By Vanessa (not verified)

I agree with mk, Liam will max out around Top 20. Liam will stay in the Top 100 for many years to come.

February 4, 2012 11:33 AM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

Liam has definitely shot up the charts, and I think it may go a bit higher - into the top 20, but probably not the top 10. It fits Americans' love for what they perceive to be Irish names (Ryan, Connor, Erin, Ashlyn), is not burdened by being popular among parents' peers, and is short. One thing that may keep Liam's SSA popularity back a bit is that it can be a nickname for William, so there may be boys given the name William but called Liam instead of Will. If I liked Liam enough to use, that's what I'd do.

February 7, 2012 1:27 PM
By AnotherStephanie (not verified)

I love the name Liam but my husband hates it. Too bad!

My father-in-law is a "William called Bill" and we also have a "William called Willie" on that side of the family as well as a "William called Billy" on my side, so I think a "William called Liam" would be a great way to honour all these men without having to choose which Bill, Billy or Willie to include or exclude with the nickname. (Can't imagine a little William making it to adulthood as "William called William" in my family. Everyone has some kind of nickname...)

I'm not surprised that it's climbing the charts as people look for creative ways to honour their "Williams" without the "boring" nickname of Bill or awkward nickname of Willy...

February 7, 2012 7:09 PM
By Sharalyn (not verified)

If our daughter had been a son (born this last April), she would have been William with the nn of Liam. :-)

February 8, 2012 10:16 PM
By Corhea (not verified)

I love Liam as a nn for William!

February 9, 2012 5:20 AM
By Top 10 name of the 70s (not verified)

Liam was number 9 in Australia in 2011. It's been around for years - must be on the wane now I think.

February 14, 2012 5:10 AM
By Courtney (not verified)

Am I crazy, or wasn't Liam on the top 10 list for 2011?

February 23, 2012 10:27 PM
By Kay (not verified)

In Canada Liam was #1 in 2011. Ethan was #2...

Guess what two names by husband and I were deciding between for our son before we did an internet search. I really like it but this means there will be multiple Liams in every class at school...

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