Mainly North American: transferred use of the surname, in origin a local name from any of various places in England named with the Middle English phrase atten whiten ey ‘by the white island’. In the 1980s its popularity as a girl's name was enhanced by the fame of the American singer Whitney Houston (b. 1963).
English (especially Yorkshire) and Scottish: occupational name for a fuller, Middle English walkere, Old English wealcere, an agent derivative of wealcan ‘to walk, tread’. This was the regular term for the occupation during the Middle Ages in western and northern England. Compare Fuller and Tucker. As a Scottish surname it has also been used as a translation of Gaelic Mac an Fhucadair ‘son of the fuller’.