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Quick Facts on Neil

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • Celtic, English, Gaelic, Irish
  • Number of syllables:
  • 1
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 623
Simple meaning:

Characteristics of Neil

  • The Master Builder
  • Leader
  • Large Undertakings
  • Confidence
  • Discipline
  • Organization

Etymology & Historical Origin - Neil

Neil is an anglicized form of a long-enduring Gaelic name Niall (pronounced “neel”) used frequently since the Middle Ages in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. Its root meaning is up for debate, but most etymologists believe it comes from Gaelic words meaning one of three things: “champion”, “cloud” or “passionate, vehement”. All agree, however, that the usage of Niall/Neil started with a legendary late-4th/early-5th century High King of Ireland known as Níall Noígíallach (or Neil of the Nine Hostages) whose descendents from his Uí Néill dynasty would go onto rule Ireland for another 600 years (O'Neils/O'Neals). In Niall’s time, there were four kingdoms in Ireland - Ulster, Munster, Leinster & Connacht – and the most powerful king of the four enjoyed more central authority over the others (known as the High King of Tara). Níall was born one of five princely sons of Eochaid Mugmedón who held the distinction of being the High King of Tara. According to legend, the five sons were given a test to find water in order to determine which would inherit the throne. One by one, each brother came to a well of water guarded by a hideous old hag. They could only drink from the well if they agreed to kiss the repugnant woman (all refused). Only Níall passed the test when he agreed to her request for a kiss. Not only was Níall rcognized as the rightful heir, but the ugly hag transformed into the most beautiful woman in all of Ireland. After inheriting his father’s kingdom, Niall went about consolidating his power throughout the northern region of Ireland and dominating his enemies. He assisted the Scots and Picts in the Gaelic Dál Riata settlement (western coast of Scotland) against the pestering Romans, subduing the opposition by taking royal hostages (hence the Nine Hostages). The most famous hostage taken by Níall during one of his raids was a young Roman citizen who would later be called St. Patrick. Níall of the Nine Hostages was indeed a legendary “champion” and clearly a “passionate, vehement” Irish warrior of his day. The name Níall eventually morphed into Neil and Neal in English. It is also the root origin for the names Nigel and Nelson.

Popularity of the Name Neil

Although Neil has never once hit the Top 100 list of most popular boy names in America, he has nonetheless been around and familiar for well over 130 years. The name dates back to the late 19th century (at least) and entered the 20th century with moderate success. The height of Neil’s popularity was during the 1950s when he hovered around position #150 on the charts. The name also saw a 54 position jump on the charts in one year alone (1969) which was the year Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. One small step for man, one giant step for the name Neil. By the 1990s, it became clear that Neil was going out of style as his drops on the charts became more substantial. The name continues its decline, but may be leveling out at low moderation today. The name is a simple, one-syllable choice; an understated “champion”. Most American parents are probably unaware of Neil’s Irish/Gaelic background or the legendary exploits of his namesake. Even with all the glory associated with Níall Noígíallach, Neil still feels unpretentious and elegant.
Popularity of the Boy Name Neil
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Neil

  • Literary Characters of the baby name Neil

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name Neil

    Neil We cannot find any significant literary characters with the first name Neil.

  • Popular Songs on Neil

    Popular Songs on Neil

    Neil Gow's Apprentice - a song by Fairport Convention

    Neil Jung - a song by Teenage Fanclub

    Oh Neil - a song by Carole King

    Ronnie and Neil - a song by Drive-By Truckers

    Young Neil - a song by Blonde Redhead

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name Neil

    Children's Books on the Baby Name Neil

    Neil Flambé and the Aztec Abduction (Kevin Sylvester) - Part of the Neil Flambé Capers. A fourteen-year-old crime-solving chef finds mayhem in Mexico in this full-flavored mystery. Teenage wunderchef—and budding detective—Neil Flambé heads to Mexico City to take part in the Azteca Cocina, a two-week battle of the chefs. But he’s off to an unsettling start: His box of secret ingredients contains a note that says his girlfriend, Isabella, has been kidnapped. He must lose in the final, or else she’ll be killed. Fortunately, Isabella is clever, and the locks of her hair that accompany follow-up ransom notes have been saturated with smells to help him track her down. But even Neil’s keen sense of smell can’t tackle this case alone. He’ll have to delve into Aztec history, symbolism, and the ancient ruins buried under the modern city. And time is ticking….Recommended for ages 8-14.

    Neil Flambé and the Crusader's Curse (Kevin Sylvester) - The sudden disappearance of Neil’s skills in the kitchen is the real mystery in this culinary caper. Is a curse to blame? World-class chef—and royal pain in the neck—Neil Flambé is used to serving his dishes to resounding applause and overwhelming approval. And Neil’s super-sensitive nose does more than enable him to cook sophisticated meals and run his own restaurant; it also allows him to help local police solve mysteries in his spare time. Then things start going wrong. His plates are returned. A group of critics visit the restaurant and leave completely dissatisfied. Worse yet, Chez Flambé is closed by an order of the Department of Health! Suddenly, Neil finds himself amid the cook-off of his life—and his entire reputation is at stake. Then he discovers the root of all his problems: a dark curse that has plagued Flambé chefs for centuries. Has Neil finally met a mess he can’t smell his way out of? Recommended for ages 8-14.

    Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders (Kevin Sylvester) - Fourteen-year-old wunderchef Neil Flambé can cook anything, and patrons pay top dollar and wait months for reservations at his tiny boutique restaurant. What many of Neil’s patrons don’t know, however, is that he’s also a budding detective, code-named “The Nose.” It all started when he used his knowledge of cooking and his incredible sense of smell to acquit his mother’s client of murder. Now, however, some of the best chefs in town are turning up dead, the cops are stumped, and the crime scenes aren’t helping. The only real clues are a mysterious smell and some equally mysterious notes — in Italian! — that have something to do with the great explorer Marco Polo. As more and more chefs fall prey to the killer, and more and more notes turn up, Neil finds himself working not only to solve the murders, but to eliminate himself as the prime suspect! Recommended for ages 8-14.

    Who Is Neil Armstrong? (Roberta Edwards) - On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon and, to an audience of over 450 million people, proclaimed his step a “giant leap for mankind.” This Eagle Scout built his own model planes as a little boy and then grew up to be a test pilot for experimental aircraft before becoming an astronaut. Over 100 black-and-white illustrations bring Armstrong’s story to life. Recommended for ages 9-12.

  • Famous People Named Neil

    Famous People Named Neil

    Famous People Named Neil - Neil Armstrong (first person on the Moon); Neil Armstrong (hockey player); Neil Coles (golfer); Neil Colville (hockey player); Neil Diamond (musician); Neil Johnston (basketball player); Neil Patrick Harris (actor); Neil Sedaka (musician); Neil Young (musician)

  • Children of Famous People Named Neil

    Children of Famous People Named Neil

    Famous People Who Named Their Son Neil - George Bush, Sr. (former U.S. President); Barbara Bush (former First Lady)

  • Historic Figures

    Neil - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Neil Armstrong (5 Aug 1930 - 25 Aug 2012) - Neil Armstrong is best known as the astronaut who became the first man to step foot on the Moon on July 21, 1969. More information to follow soon.

Personality of the Boy Name Neil

The Master Number Twenty-Two combines the traits of Twos and Fours into a powerful force. The references to The Master Builder and "large undertakings" serve to underscore the massive potential of this personality. They are extremely capable and therefore almost always successful. Twenty-Twos are courageous leaders, innovative thinkers, extremely wise and highly organized. As such, they are able to manifest something of major importance that will have a lasting impact on this world. Master Numbers carry with them a great sense of responsibility, so it can be a burden. However, Twenty-Twos are executors and action-takers. Further, this personality exhibits traits of the Twos, which brings sensitivity, spirituality and harmony, so their endeavors are likely to benefit mankind in some capacity.

Variations of the Baby Name - Neil

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