Gender Male
Word/Name Niall -> Njáll -> Neel, Niel, Nihel -> Nigellus -> Nigel
Region of origin Normandy, England

Nigel (pronounced /ˈnaɪdʒəl/) is an English masculine given name. The name is derived from the Latin Nigellus. This Latin word would seem to derive from the Latin niger, meaning "black"; however this is thought to be 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. Indeed, the Latin word nigellus gave birth to Old French neel (modern nielle), meaning “black enamel” (same word as niello) and it explains the confusion, because the clerics believed it was the same etymology as the first name Neel, spelled the same way.[1]

In fact, the Old Norman first name Neel (modern surname Néel) derives itself from the Norse Njáll. The Norse Njáll, in turn, is derived from the Gaelic Niall.[2] 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, such as Sir Walter Scott who published The Fortunes of Nigel in 1822.[3] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published Sir Nigel in 1905/06. Nigel was a common name for boys born in England and Wales during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s (see below).

Nigel has never been as common in other countries,[citation needed] but has been among the thousand most common names for boys born in the United States since 1971 when 94 births were recorded with the name. Numbers peaked in 1994 when 447 were recorded (it being the 478th most common boys name that year). There were 244 in 2009.[4] 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.

In Australian English it is a colloquial term for a male social misfit or a person without friends, originating from the name being unusual in the 1980s and alliterating with 'no-friends'.[5]


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.[6][7] In 1964 it was the 24th most popular boys name.[8]

Year Number
1840 1
1850 2
1860 1
1870 7
1880 8
1890 10
1900 18
1910 24
1920 71
1930 164
1940 445
1950 1943
1960 4383
1963 5529
1970 2469
1980 413
1990 125
2000 25
2010 18

Notable men named Nigel

Fictional characters

  • 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
  • Nigel Pargetter, a character on the BBC radio soap opera The Archers
  • Nigel Forrester, a character from Bratz Rock Angelz whom Cloe falls in love with
  • Nigel Uno, a fictional character from Codename: Kids Next Door


  1. ^ Origine et histoire des noms de famille, Marianne Mulon, editions errance, 2002. p 119.
  2. ^ "Neill Name Meaning and History". Retrieved 2 August 32009.  For the etymology of the surname Neill this web page cites: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Popular baby names
  5. ^ Macquarie Australian English Dictionary, Macmillan Publishers Australia 2010
  6. ^ Extracted from indexes of births registered in England and Wales in Numbers for some years may contain some duplication with boys appearing twice in the index.
  7. ^ ONS Spreadsheet
  8. ^ ONS Spreadsheet

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  • Nigel — puede referirse a: Dado Nombre Nigel Barker, un célebre fotógrafo de modas de ascendecia británica y esrilanquesa. Nigel Barley, un antropólogo británico. Nigel Bruce, un actor británico de carácter. Nigel de Jong, un futbolista neerlandés. Nigel …   Wikipedia Español

  • Nigel — ist ein englischer Vorname und eine andere Form des ebenfalls englischen Namens Neil und ehemaligen normannischen Namens Néel. Der Vorname ist besonders in England unter den in den 1960er und 70er Jahren geborenen Kindern weit verbreitet.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nigel — est un prénom britannique. Sommaire 1 Étymologie 2 Dérivés et variantes 3 Histoire religieuse 4 Personnages historiques …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nigel — m English: Anglicized form of the medieval name Nigellus, a Latinized version (ostensibly representing a diminutive of Latin niger black) of the vernacular Ni(h)el, i.e. NEIL (SEE Neil). Although it is frequently found in medieval records, this… …   First names dictionary

  • Nigel — masc. proper name; see NEIL (Cf. Neil) …   Etymology dictionary

  • nigel — /ˈnaɪdʒəl/ (say nuyjuhl) noun Especially Qld and NSW Colloquial a male social misfit, as someone who dresses or behaves in an unfashionable or unstylish manner. Also, Nigel. {from Nigel no friends, Nigel being an unusual name in the 1980s and… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Nigel — noun of mostly British usage. I thought, sir, answered Nigel, with as much haughtiness as was consistent with the cool distance he desired to preserve, I thought I had told you, my name was Nigel Grahame …   Wiktionary

  • Nigel — Original name in latin Nigel Name in other language Najdzhel, Nigel, Найджел State code ZA Continent/City Africa/Johannesburg longitude 26.43138 latitude 28.47713 altitude 1566 Population 140644 Date 2012 07 12 …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Nigel — n British an upper middle class or upper class male. A pejorative term since the 1960s, Nigel is thought to epitomise ostentatious young men who drive sports cars and wear flat caps and tweed jackets. ► Naff causes of death: ... racing a right… …   Contemporary slang

  • Nigel — englische Nebenform von → Niall (Bedeutung: Wolke, auch: der Leidenschaftliche). Namensträger: Nigel Kennedy, britischer Violinist …   Deutsch namen

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