Neil is a masculine given name of Gaelic origin. The name is an Anglicisation of the Irish Niall which is of disputed derivation. The Irish name may be derived from words meaning "cloud", "passionate", or "champion". As a surname, Neil is traced back to Niall of the Nine Hostages who was an Irish king and eponymous ancestor of the Uí Néill and MacNeil kindred. Most authorities cite the meaning of Neil in the context of a surname as meaning champion.
OriginsThe Gaelic name was adopted by the Vikings and taken to Iceland as Njáll. From Iceland it went via Norway, Denmark, and Normandy to England. The name also entered Northern England and Yorkshire directly from Ireland, and from Norwegian settlers. Neal or Neall is the Middle English form of Nigel.
As a first name, during the Middle Ages, the Gaelic name was popular in Ireland and Scotland. During the 20th century Neil began to be used in England and North America, and grew in popularity throughout the English-speaking world; however, in England, it has recently been eclipsed by the Gaelic form.
The surname Neil is a reduced form of the surname McNeil, or variant form the surname of Neill, Kneale, or Kneel. It evolved from McNelle and MacNeyll becoming Kneal by 1598.
VariantsVariants of the given name include: Neale and Neal.
The table below sets out the various surnames derived from Niall
|Name||Year||Country of origin||Mentioned|
|Neil||1260||England||Assize Rolls, Yorks|
|Nele||1304||England||Subsidy Rolls, Yorks|
|Nigelli||1195||England||Feet of Fines, Warwicks|
|Niel||1841||Scotland||A frequent spelling variant of Neil in the 1841 Census of Aberdeenshire.|
|Nel, Neel||1208–1210||England||Curia Regis Rolls, Berkshire|
Notable men named Neil
- Neil Abercrombie, former Governor of Hawaii and U.S. Representative
- Neil Anderson , Irish cricketer, right-handed batsman and a left-arm spin bowler
- Neil Armstrong, American astronaut, the first human being to set foot on the Moon
- Neil Bogart, American music executive
- Neil Carmichael, Baron Carmichael of Kelvingrove, British Labour Party politician, Member of parliament in Glasgow 1962–1983
- Neil Carmichael , English businessman, academic, and Member of parliament for Stroud from 2010
- Neil Cicierega, American artist and Internet personality
- Neil Codling, English musician, member of the band Suede
- Neil Diamond, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor
- Neil Gaiman, English author
- Neil Hannon, Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician
- Neale Hanvey, Scottish politician
- Neil Innes, English writer, comedian and musician, member of the Rutles, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
- Neil Jordan, Irish film maker
- Neil Kenlock, Jamaican-born photographer
- Neil Kinnock, British politician, and former leader of the Labour Party
- Neil Lyndon, British journalist and author
- Neil Patel, Welsh-American production designer
- Neil Patel, American publisher and co-founder of The Daily Caller
- Neil Patrick Harris, American actor
- Neil Peart, American-Canadian drummer and lyricist of the rock band Rush
- Neil Prakash, Australian terrorist
- Neil Sedaka, American musician
- Neil Simon, American playwright
- Neil Tennant, British singer-songwriter of Pet Shop Boys
- Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist
- Neil Young, Canadian singer-songwriter and musician
- Neil Buchanan, English television presenter, artist and musician