An allusion to William Griffith Wilson (1895–1971), known as “Bill W.”, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.
friend of Bill W. (plural friends of Bill W.)
- (idiomatic, euphemistic) A recovering alcoholic, especially one who is a member of the organization Alcoholics Anonymous.
1994 May 31, “Obituary: Middletown BRIAN EDWARD CRAWFORD”, in Providence Journal, USA, page D10:
He was a friend of Bill W. and had just celebrated Ten Years of Sobriety.
2004, Jack Canfield et al., Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul,, →ISBN, page 49:
Most people in recovery know that asking if you are a friend of Bill W. is an anonymous way to identify yourself as a member of AA.
- Because of the stigma attached to alcoholism, and Alcoholics Anonymous' commitment to protecting the identities of its members, the phrase is a furtive shibboleth for individuals to identify themselves as members of Alcoholics Anonymous, or to identify Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on schedules, etc.
- Often used in eulogies and obituaries when the deceased person was a recovering alcoholic.