|Word/name||Niall -> Njáll -> Neel, Niel, Nihel -> Nigellus -> Nigel|
|Meaning||ultimately from the Gaelic Niall|
|Region of origin||Normandy and England|
|Related names||Nigella (female)|
The English Nigel is commonly found in records dating from the Middle Ages; however, it was not used much before being revived by 19th-century antiquarians. For instance, Sir Walter Scott published The Fortunes of Nigel in 1822, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published Sir Nigel in 1905–06. Nigel was a common name for boys born in England and Wales from the 1950s to the 1970s (see below).
Nigel has never been as common in other countries, but was among the 1,000 most common names for boys born in the United States from 1971 to 2010. Numbers peaked in 1994 when 447 were recorded (it was the 478th most common boys' name that year). The peak popularity at 0.02% of boys' names in 1994 compares to a peak popularity in England and Wales of about 1.2% in 1963, 60 times higher.
|Look up Nigel no friends in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
In Australian English, it is a colloquial term for a male social misfit or a friendless person, originating from the name being unusual in the 1980s and alliterating with "no-friends" (both start with n).
The name is derived from the church Latin Nigellus. This Latin word would at first sight seems to derive from the Latin niger, meaning "black"; however, this is now considered an example of an incorrect etymology created by French-speaking clerics, who knew Latin as well, to translate the Norman first name Neel in the Latin written documents. The Latin word nigellus gave birth to Old French neel (modern nielle), meaning “niello, black enamel” and it explains the confusion, because the clerics believed it was the same etymology as the first name Neel, spelled the same way.
England and Wales
The following table shows the number of boys given the first name Nigel in specific years in England and Wales. Numbers peaked in about 1963. In 1964 it was the 23rd most popular boys' name. By 2016 the number of boys named Nigel had dropped below 3, the minimum number reported by the ONS.
- Nigel de Saint-Sauveur (Néel de Saint-Sauveur), Norman baron at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Cotentin
- Nigel D'Oyly (Néel d'Ouilly), Anglo-Norman lord
- Nigel d'Aubigny (Néel d'Aubigny), Norman nobleman
- Nigel, Bishop of Ely (Néel d'Ely), Anglo-Norman bishop
- Nigel de Longchamps, 12th-century English poet
Notable men named Nigel
- Nigel Ah Wong, New Zealand rugby player
- Nigel Ayers, multimedia artist
- Nigel Barker (photographer), fashion photographer
- Nigel John Taylor, bass player of Duran Duran
- Nigel Benn, British boxer
- Nigel Bennett, actor, director, and writer
- Nigel Benson, writer and illustrator
- Nigel Blackwell, English lead singer and guitarist of Half Man Half Biscuit
- Nigel Bond, snooker player
- Nigel Bruce, actor
- Nigel Clough, British footballer
- Nigel Davenport, actor
- Nigel Dick, director, writer, and musician
- Nigel Dodds, British/Northern Irish politician, MP (DUP)
- Nigel Edwards (disambiguation)
- Nigel Evans, British politician
- Nigel Farage, British politician, MEP (UKIP)
- Nigel Godrich, recording engineer and record producer
- Nigel Green, actor
- Nigel Gresley, steam locomotive engineer
- Nigel Harris (disambiguation)
- Nigel Havers, actor
- Nigel Hawthorne, actor
- Nigel Hayes (born 1994), American basketball player
- Nigel Haywood, Governor of the Falkland Islands
- Nigel Hess, British composer
- Nigel Horspool, British-born inventor of the Boyer–Moore–Horspool algorithm
- Nigel Holmes, British graphic designer
- Nigel Irens, British yacht designer
- Nigel de Jong, Dutch footballer
- Nigel Keay, New Zealand violist and composer
- Nigel Kennedy, British violinist and violist
- Nigel Kneale, scriptwriter
- Nigel Latta, psychologist
- Nigel Lawson, British politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Nigel Lythgoe, English television, film director and producer
- Nigel Mansell, British racing car driver
- Nigel Martyn, British football goalkeeper
- Nigel Marven, British wildlife television presenter/producer, author, and hobby ornithologist
- Nigel McGuinness, wrestler
- Nigel Melville, English rugby player, coach, and administrator
- Nigel Miguel, Belizean-American actor, film producer, film commissioner, basketball player
- Nigel Mitchell, British television presenter and radio presenter
- Nigel Morris, co-founder of Capital One
- Nigel Northridge (born 1956), British businessman
- Nigel Oakes (born 1962), British businessman
- Nigel Olsson, drummer for Elton John, solo recording artist
- Nigel Owens, Welsh rugby referee
- Nigel Pivaro, English actor, as Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street
- Nigel Planer, actor
- Nigel Plum, Australian rugby player
- Nigel Reo-Coker, English footballer
- Nigel Richards, four times World Scrabble Champion
- Nigel Rodgers, author
- Nigel Roberts, computer scientist
- Nigel Short, chess player
- Nigel Slater, English food writer and broadcaster
- Nigel Smart, Australian footballer
- Nigel Stock (actor), actor who played Dr Watson
- Nigel Vardy, British mountaineer
- Nigel Warburton, philosopher
- Nigel Watson, British blues-rock guitarist
- Nigel West, pen name of Rupert Allason
- Nigel Williams-Goss (born 1994), American basketball player
- Nigel Winterburn, English footballer
- Nigel Worthington, footballer and manager
- Nigel Bathgate, a journalist, in the 1934 detective novel, A Man Lay Dead by Dame Ngaio Marsh
- Nigel Bottom, a poet and playwright in Something Rotten!
- Sir Nigel Thornberry, fictional wildlife documentary producer from The Wild Thornberrys
- Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist for the fictional band Spinal Tap
- Nigel Olifaunt, Lord Glenvarloch, main character of Sir Walter Scott's novel The Fortunes of Nigel
- Sir Nigel (Loring), a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle based on the life of Neil Loring
- Nigel Pargetter, a character on the BBC radio soap opera The Archers
- Nigel Baker, a character in Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel
- Nigel Forrester, a character from Bratz Rock Angelz with whom Cloe falls in love
- Nigel Uno, a fictional character from Codename: Kids Next Door
- "Making Plans for Nigel", 1979 New Wave hit for English group XTC
- Nigel Powers (played by actor Michael Caine) is a character who appears in the third Austin Powers movie, Austin Powers in Goldmember, as the father of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil
- Nigel Molesworth, schoolboy in 1950s humour books by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle
- Nigel Moon, one of the many brothers of the character Daphne Moon in the TV series Frasier
- Nigel, a pelican in Finding Nemo
- Nigel, the gangster ex-husband in Fredrik Bond's Charlie Countryman
- Nigel "Nidge" Delaney, fictional character played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in RTE crime drama TV series Love/Hate
- Sir Nigel Irvine, SIS chief in Frederick Forsyth's spy fiction The Fourth Protocol
- Nigel, a sadistic sulphur-crested cockatoo who is the main antagonist in Rio and Rio 2
- Nigel Burke, the main character in Surgeon Simulator 2013
- Nigel, nickname given by the community to the British pilot model in War Thunder
- Nigel Bumble, a fictional character who join The Rooks in Assassin's Creed Syndicate
- Nigel, an agoraphobic sheep dog in the 2000 New Zealand movie The Price of Milk
- Nigel, played by Hugh Grant, in the movie Bitter Moon
- Nigel Ratburn, an anthropomorphic rat and elementary school teacher, in Arthur.
- Nigel Planter, a character from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.
- Nigel Wolpert, a Gryffindor wizard from Harry Potter.
- Hanks, Patrick; Hodges, Flavia (2006). Hardcastle, Kate (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of Names (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1.
- SueKunkel. "Popular Baby Names". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Macquarie Australian English Dictionary, Macmillan Publishers Australia 2010
- Origine et histoire des noms de famille, Marianne Mulon, editions errance, 2002. p 119.
- Nordic Names : origin and etymology of Niall 
- "Neill Name Meaning and History". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2 August 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.
- Extracted from indexes of births registered in England and Wales in www.ancestry.co.uk. Numbers for some years may contain some duplication with boys appearing twice in the index.
- Baby Names, England and Wales, 2010 (ONS Spreadsheet)
- Baby Names, England and Wales, 2015 (ONS Spreadsheet)
- Baby Names, England and Wales, 1904-1994 (ONS Spreadsheet)
- "No Brexit bounce for the name Nigel". BBC. 20 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.