Neil is a masculine name of Irish 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", "victory", "honour" 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".
The Gaelic name was adopted by the Vikings and taken to Iceland as Njáll (see Nigel). 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 of Irish origins was popular in Ireland and later 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 (from the Gaelic Mac Néill, "son of Niall"), or variant form the surname of Neill (from the Irish Ó Néill and Mac Néill or the Scottish Gaelic Mac Néill, meaning "descendant of Niall" and "son of Niall".
The name passed from Ireland to Scotland where it had the Mc/Mac prefix a prefix that already existed in the Irish surname such as Lóegaire mac Néill. Some Scottish McNeill's returned to Ireland in the 14th century and are associated with MacNeill, MacGreal, MacReill, and Mag Reil surnames.
The Manx version of the name is Kneal (1598), Kneale (1655), or Kneel (1636). It evolved from McNelle (1408) and MacNeyll (1430) becoming Kneal by 1598.
Variants of the given name include: Neale and Neal.
The table below sets out the various surnames derived from Niall and Nial
|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|
People with the given name
- Neil Abercrombie (born 1938), former Governor of Hawaii and U.S. Representative
- Neil Anderson (cricketer) (born 1979), Irish cricketer, right-handed batsman and a left-arm spin bowler
- Neil Armstrong (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Bogart (1943–1982), American music executive
- Neil Breen, American filmmaker and actor
- Neil Buchanan (born 1961), English television presenter, artist and musician
- Neil Carmichael, Baron Carmichael of Kelvingrove (1921–2001), British Labour Party politician, MP in Glasgow 1962–1983
- Neil Carmichael (English politician) (born 1961), English businessman and academic, MP for Stroud 2010–2017
- Neil Cicierega (born 1986), American artist and Internet personality
- Neil Clarke (disambiguation), several people, including those named Neil Clark
- Neil Clark Warren (born 1934), American psychologist and theologian
- Neil Codling (born 1973), English musician, member of the band Suede
- Neil Cole (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Diamond (born 1941), American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor
- Neil Farrell Jr. (born 1998), American football player
- Neil Fairbrother (born 1963), English cricketer
- Neil Gaiman (born 1960), English author
- Neil Gorsuch (born 1967), Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Neil Hannon (born 1970), Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician
- Neale Hanvey (born 1964), Scottish politician
- Neil Harrison (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Innes (1944–2019), English writer, comedian and musician, member of the Rutles, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
- Neil Jenkins (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Jordan (born 1950), Irish film maker
- Neil Kenlock (born 1950), Jamaican-born photographer
- Neil Kinnock (born 1942), British politician, and former leader of the Labour Party
- Neil Lyndon (born 1946), British journalist and author
- Neil MacGregor (born 1946), British art historian
- Neil Martin (disambiguation), several people
- Neil McGregor (disambiguation), several people
- Neil McVicar (politician), Canadian politician
- Neil O'Brien (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Patel (designer), Welsh-American production designer
- Neil Patel (political advisor), American publisher and co-founder of The Daily Caller
- Neil Patrick Harris (born 1973), American actor
- Neil Peart (1952–2020), Canadian drummer and lyricist of the rock band Rush
- Neil Perry (born 1957), Australian chef
- Neil Perry (cricketer) (born 1958), English cricketer
- Neil Prakash (born 1991), Australian terrorist
- Neil Reid (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Sedaka (born 1939), American musician
- Neil Simon (1927–2018), American playwright
- Neil Tennant (born 1954), British singer-songwriter of Pet Shop Boys
- Neil Turk (born 1987), English cricketer
- Neil deGrasse Tyson (born 1958), American astrophysicist, author and science communicator
- Neil Walker (disambiguation), several people
- Neil Young (disambiguation), several people
People with the surname
- Alex Neil (politician) (born 1951), Scottish politician
- Alexandra Neil (born 1955), American actress
- Andrew Neil (born 1949), Scottish journalist and broadcaster
- Chris Neil (born 1979), Canadian professional ice hockey player
- Chris Neal (disambiguation) (and variants), several people
- Dan Neil (American football) (born 1973), American football player
- Dan Neil (journalist) (born 1960), automobile columnist for the Los Angeles Times
- Fred Neil (1936–2001), American singer and songwriter
- María Fernanda Neil (born 1982), Argentine actress and model
- Sam Neill (born 1947), New Zealand actor
- Sara Neil (born 1960), Canadian cyclist
- Tom Neil (1920–2018), British fighter pilot
- Vince Neil (born 1961), singer for American metal band Mötley Crüe
- Neil "The Good Looking", from the Canadian animated series Class of the Titans
- Neil the Boxtank engine, from The Railway Series books by Rev. W.V. Awdry
- Neil Goldman, from the Family Guy animated comedy series
- Neil Pye, from the British TV sitcom The Young Ones
- All pages with titles beginning with Neil
- All pages with titles containing Neil
- Niall, Gaelic form
- Neil (given name)
- Neila (given name)
- Nigel, given name
- Neal, Kneale, MacNeil, McNeil, Neale, Neill, Nelson, O'Neill, Niel
- List of Irish-language given names
- List of Scottish Gaelic given names
- Hanks, Patrick; Hardcastle, Kate; Hodges, Flavia (2006), A Dictionary of First Names, Oxford Paperback Reference (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, pp. 203–204, ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1.
- P H Reaney, A Dictionary of British Surnames, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976, London.
- "Neil Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved August 3, 2009. For the etymology of the surname Neil this web page cites: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.
- "Neill Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved August 3, 2009. For the etymology of the surname Neill this web page cites: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.
- "McNeil Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved August 3, 2009. For the etymology of the surname McNeil this web page cites: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.
- Edward MacLysaght, More Irish Family Names, Irish Academic Press, 1996, Dublin
- A W Moore, Manx Names, London 1903
- G F Black, Surnames of Scotland, New York, 1946