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friend of Bill W.




An allusion to William Griffith Wilson (1895–1971), one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.


friend of Bill W. (plural friends of Bill W.)

  1. (idiomatic, euphemistic) A recovering alcoholic, especially one who is a member of the organization Alcoholics Anonymous.
    • 1994 May 31, "Obituary: Middletown BRIAN EDWARD CRAWFORD‎," Providence Journal (USA), p. D10:
      He was a friend of Bill W. and had just celebrated Ten Years of Sobriety.
    • 2003 Feb. 23, Lynne Margolis, "Delbert McClinton rocks the boat for music lovers," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (retrieved July 8, 2011):
      The Sandy Beaches cruise offers Alcoholics Anonymous meetings billed simply as Friends of Bill W.
    • 2004, Jack Canfield et al., Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul,[1], →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.

Usage notesEdit

  • 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.
  • Often used in eulogies and obituaries when the deceased person was a recovering alcoholic.