Quick Facts on Nigel
- English, Latin
- Number of syllables:
- Ranking popularity:
Champion, Cloud, Passionate or Black
- Highly Intuitive
- Spiritual Teacher
- Extremely Bright
Etymology & Historical Origin - Nigel
Nigel is an English masculine name which developed from “Nigellus”, a Medieval Latin form of Neil. Neil is actually an anglicized form of a long-enduring Gaelic name Níall (pronounced “neel”) used since the Middle Ages in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. Its root meaning is up for debate, but most etymologists believe it comes from a 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 Niall of the Nine Hostages) whose descendents from his Uí Néill dynasty would go onto rule Ireland for another 600 years. 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 the old lady’s request for a kiss. Not only was Níall recognized as the rightful heir, but the ugly hag transformed into the most beautiful woman in all of Ireland. Bonus points! 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, but it is also the root origin of Nigel and Nelson. Nigel represents the Latinized form of Neil, although it is sometimes associated with the Latin word “niger” meaning “black”. It wasn’t until more modern times that Nigel found a wider audience in Great Britain, mostly due to Sir Walter Scott’s 1822 novel “The Fortunes of Nigel” (see literary references below).
Popularity of the Name Nigel
There’s no two ways about it. Nigel is one of those quintessential English given names. OMG it’s sooo British it practically begs to be pronounced with an English accent. Although the name dates back to the Middle Ages in England, Nigel wouldn’t cross the pond over to America until the 20th century in 1971. At first the name showed promising success as he reached the middle of the Top 1000 list, but then, after his peak popularity in the 1990s, old Nigel reversed his course. Usage of this name appears to have been just a minor and fleeting fad; Nigel dropped into obscurity very recently in 2011 when the name disappeared from the charts altogether. Out of circulation now, Nigel probably returned to England where he’s more comfortable. Some people think Nigel sounds just a little too British in that elitist, “look-down-upon-Americans” sort of way. Americans like to use the name Nigel when making light-hearted fun of English people. Remember the lead guitarist for the band “Spinal Tap” Nigel Tufnel in the cult-favorite 1984 mockumentary film “This is Spinal Tap”? That’s how we think of Nigel. Hilariously and unselfconsciously British. We think Nigel is the perfect name for a pet cat.
Popularity of the Boy Name Nigel
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - Nigel
Literary Characters of the Baby Name Nigel
Nigel (The Fortunes of Nigel) Nigel Olifaunt is the title character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1822 novel, The Fortunes of Nigel. Nigel is a young Scottish lord who travels to the court of King James the First in order to request protection of his estate through repayment of a royal debt to his father. Probably not a good idea to ask a king to pay you back. Caught up in the intrigues of court and victim to those who want his estate for themselves, Nigel is led astray. He endures many outrages before finding himself in the Tower, having imposed bodily harm upon a member of the court. Not to worry – there is a damsel to come to the aid of his distress – Margaret Ramsay, the watchmaker’s daughter, has taken a liking to him. She disguises herself as a boy (she’s been reading her Shakespeare) and appeals to the king to set him free. So peace and prosperity are restored, and Nigel weds Margaret, albeit based upon very little personal acquaintance with her. Nonetheless, he sorta owed it to her…and Margaret gets to step up in the world. In the eighteenth century, that’s a plus!
Popular Songs on Nigel
Making Plans for Nigel - a song by Primus
Making Plans for Nigel - a song by XTC
That Must Be Nigel with the Brie - a song by Off With Their Heads
Children's Books on the Baby Name Nigel
Nigel (Debra K. Duel) - Nigel is the true life story of a young, happy-go-lucky black Labrador retriever who is rescued from an abusive situation and adopted into a permanent, loving home. The book introduces readers to Nigel and his family, and chronicles Nigel's daily activities including his job as a reading buddy at a local library. Readers will meet Nigel's family and identify with the things that Nigel and his family do. They will understand that dogs need companionship, and many, like Nigel, truly enjoy being with children. Recommended for ages 4-8.
The Compleet Molesworth (Geoffrey Willans & Ronald Searle) - A story featuring the trials and tribulations of Nigel Molesworth at St Custards school. Using his own brand of outrageous spelling, it includes his advice on how to cope with "bulies, snekes, grown-ups and other chizzes". Recommended for ages 10+
Famous People Named Nigel
Famous People Named Nigel - Nigel Evans (British politician); Nigel Harman (English actor); Nigel Havers (English actor); Nigel Hawthorne (English actor); Nigel Keay (composer); Nigel Kennedy (classical musician); Nigel Olsson (drummer for Elton John); Nigel Short (chess player); Nigel Stock (English actor)
Children of Famous People Named Nigel
Famous People Who Named Their Son Nigel - We cannot find any celebrities or famous people who have named their child Nigel.
Nigel - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures
Nigel - We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Nigel.
Personality of the Boy Name Nigel
The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.
Variations of the Baby Name - Nigel