Crisis of the Wims, a boy’s name in decline


wThe name Wim is as Dutch as it gets, but how long will it remain in use? A 2009 booklet called Lang Leve Wim (Long Live Wim) by linguist Wim (!) Daniëls sounds the alarm.

I haven’t read the book myself, but one review quotes what appears to be the introduction: “In the past few years only a couple of Wims have been born. The peak for the name Wim was between 1950 and 1960 in the Netherlands and between 1970 and 1980 in Flanders.”

The Meertens Institute says there are still a good number of Wims walking around the country. Based on census data the institute estimates there are still about 3,500 men called Wim in the Netherlands, or 0.05% of the population. Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB), the agency responsible for child support, says 13 baby boys were named Wim in 2013. That is definitely more than the ‘couple’ Daniëls speaks of, but not a chink in the armour of the top five of boys’ names in the Netherlands for 2013, Sem, Levi, Bram, Daan and Finn, which were given to sons more than 700 times each.

The situation is not as bad however as Wim Daniëls says. He has to use a trick to uphold his disaster story of dewimmification. As Bill is the short version of William in English, so is Wim the short version of Willem in Dutch. In 2013, again according to SVB, 264 boys were called Willem, and with a king bearing the same name I estimate the likeliness of that number to drop by much is low. Which, in the end, I think is a good thing. As Daniëls says, what would a world be without Wimmen?

(Link: Holly Moors)


  1. esther wieringa says:

    Of course the traditional names are in decline. That’s a natural consequence of free name choice leading to name fashions. I just don’t get why he is singling out Wim. Karel, Klaas and Hendrik (to name just a few) show the same sort of decline.

    And yes, any Willem can call himself Wim if he wants to, so the situation for Wim is not that bad at all.

  2. Branko Collin says:

    I cannot speak for the author of course, but maybe it’s simply because he’s called Wim himself.

    The reason I stumbled upon this story five years after the fact is because the very first Dutch Little Golden Book has been re-issued, Wim is Weg (first Dutch, meaning the first that was written in Dutch rather than translated from English). Follow the link at the bottom (to Holly Moors) to find out more about that Little Golden Book.

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