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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gender Male
Origin Niall -> Njáll -> Neel, Niel, Nihel -> Nigellus -> Nigel
Popularity Popular names page

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 wrong 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 likely not used much before being revived by 19th century antiquarians, such as Sir Walter Scott.[3] Nigel was a common name for boys born in England and Wales during the 1960s and 1970s. Nigel has never been as common in other countries, but has been among the thousand most common names for boys born in the United States since 1971, with its highest ranking on the Social Security Administration's list.[4]

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


  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

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NIGEL (d. 1169), bishop of Ely, head of the exchequer in the reigns of Henry I. and Henry II., was brought into the exchequer in early life (1130). Soon after his uncle Roger of Salisbury secured him the bishopric of Ely, much to the disgust of the monks. Nigel was at first retained in Stephen's service; but, like his uncle and his brothers, incurred the suspicion of leaning towards the Angevin interest, when Roger of Salisbury and Alexander of Lincoln were arrested by Stephen (January 1139). Nigel attempted to maintain himself in his see by force of arms, but he was forced to fly to the empress at Gloucester. He was reconciled to Stephen in 1142 and restored to his see; but he now became involved in a quarrel with the powerful Henry of Winchester. Ranulph, his first treasurer and representative at Ely, had been extortionate and dishonest, and the monks accused Nigel, probably with some justification, of spending the estates and treasures of the see in maintaining knights and gaining court influence. Henry of Winchester, who can have had little sympathy with bishops of Nigel's type, took up their quarrel, and Nigel was forced to go to Rome. Fortunately, both in these quarrels and in all his difficulties with Stephen, he secured the strong and uniform support of the Roman Curia. At the accession of Henry II. (1154) Nigel was summoned to reorganize the exchequer. He was the only surviving minister of Henry I., and his knowledge of the exchequer business was unrivalled. This was the great work of his life. It is to the work of his son Richard, the Dialogus de Scaccario, that we are indebted for our knowledge of the procedure of the exchequer as it was left by Nigel. The bishop took little part in politics, except as an administrator. In 1166 his health was broken by a paralytic seizure. Except for another quarrel with his monks, who accused him of despoiling their church and gained the ear of Pope Adrian, the last part of his life was laborious and uneventful.

See Dr Liebermann's Einleitung in den Dialogus de Scaccario; J. H. Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




English form of Latin Nigellus, diminutive of niger (black), used in the Middle Ages to Latinize Gaelic Neil or Niall.


Proper noun




  1. A male given name, of mostly British usage.


  • 1822 Walter Scott, The Fortunes of Nigel, Chapter XXIII,
    '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.'
    His eminence of Whitefriars on this burst into a loud, chuckling, impudent laugh, repeating the word, till his voice was almost inarticulate, - 'Niggle Green - Niggle Green - Niggle Green! why, my lord, you would be queered in the drinking of a penny pot of Malmsey, if you cry before you are touched.'


  • Anagrams of egiln
  • ingle


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