|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 1970s 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
- Zimbabwe Nigel Ah Wong (born 1990), New Zealand rugby player
- Nigel Ayers (born 1957), English multimedia artist
- Nigel Barker (photographer) (born 1972), English fashion photographer
- Nigel Benn (born 1964), British boxer
- Nigel Bennett (born 1949), Anglo-Canadian actor, director, and writer
- Nigel Benson (born 1955), British writer and illustrator
- Nigel Blackwell, English lead singer and guitarist of Half Man Half Biscuit
- Nigel Bond (born 1965), British snooker player
- Nigel Bruce (1895–1953), British actor
- Nigel Clough (born 1966), British footballer
- Nigel Cumberland, British author
- Nigel Davenport (1928–2013), English actor
- Nigel Dick (born 1953), English director, writer, and musician
- Nigel Dodds (born 1958), British/Northern Irish politician, MP (DUP)
- Nigel Edwards (disambiguation)
- Nigel Evans (born 1957), British politician
- Nigel Farage (born 1964), British politician, MEP (Brexit Party)
- Nigel Glockler (born 1953), English drummer of the heavy metal band Saxon
- Nigel Godrich (born 1971), English recording engineer and record producer
- Nigel Green (1924–1972), British actor
- Nigel Gresley (1876–1941), British steam locomotive engineer
- Nigel Harris (disambiguation)
- Nigel Havers (born 1951), English actor
- Nigel Hawthorne (1929–2001), English actor
- Nigel Hayes (born 1994), American basketball player
- Nigel Haywood (born 1955), Governor of the Falkland Islands
- Nigel Hess (born 1953), British composer
- Nigel Horspool, British-born inventor of the Boyer–Moore–Horspool algorithm
- Nigel Holmes (born 1942), British graphic designer
- Nigel Irens, British yacht designer
- Nigel de Jong (born 1984), Dutch footballer
- Nigel Keay (born 1955), New Zealand violist and composer
- Nigel Kennedy (born 1956), British violinist and violist
- Nigel Kneale (1922–2006), British scriptwriter
- Nigel Latta (born 1967), New Zealand psychologist
- Nigel Lawson (born 1932), British politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Nigel Lythgoe (born 1949), English television, film director and producer
- Nigel Mansell (born 1953), British racing car driver
- Nigel Martyn (born 1966), British football goalkeeper
- Nigel Marven (born 1960), British wildlife television presenter/producer, author, and hobby ornithologist
- Nigel McGuinness (born 1976), British wrestler
- Nigel Melville (born 1961), English rugby player, coach, and administrator
- Nigel Miguel (born 1963), Belizean-American actor, film producer, film commissioner, basketball player
- Nigel Mitchell, British television presenter and radio presenter
- Nigel Morris (born 1958), British businessman and co-founder of Capital One
- Nigel Murch (1944–2020), Australian cricketer
- Nigel Northridge (born 1956), British businessman
- Nigel Oakes (born 1962), British businessman
- Nigel Olsson (born 1949), drummer for Elton John, solo recording artist
- Nigel Owens (born 1971), Welsh rugby referee
- Nigel Pivaro (born 1959), English actor, he played as Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street
- Nigel Planer (born 1953), English actor
- Nigel Plum, Australian rugby player
- Nigel Reo-Coker (born 1984), English footballer
- Nigel Richards (born 1967), five times World Scrabble Champion
- Nigel Rodgers (born 1952), British author
- Nigel Roberts, British computer scientist
- Nigel Short (born 1965), English chess player
- Nigel Slater (born 1958), English food writer and broadcaster
- Nigel Smart (born 1969), Australian footballer
- Nigel Stock (actor) (1919–1986), English actor who played Dr Watson
- Nigel John Taylor (born 1960), bass player of Duran Duran
- Nigel Vardy, British mountaineer
- Nigel Warburton, British philosopher
- Nigel Watson, British blues-rock guitarist
- Nigel Williams-Goss (born 1994), American basketball player
- Nigel Winterburn (born 1963), English footballer
- Nigel Worthington (born 1961), Northern Irish footballer and manager
- Nigel Bathgate, a journalist, in the detective novel, A Man Lay Dead (1934) 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
- Principal Nigel Brown, a character on The Amazing World of Gumball
- 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 brown 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 the Rio franchise
- 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 New Zealand film The Price of Milk (2000)
- Nigel, played by Hugh Grant, in the movie Bitter Moon (1992)
- Nigel Ratburn, an anthropomorphic rat and elementary school teacher, in the Arthur TV series.
- 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.