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Surname McNeely - Meaning and Origin

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Discovering my McNeely Lineage: How an iGENEA DNA Test Transformed my Perspective on my Family Heritage

Taking the iGENEA DNA test introduced me to a whole new understanding of my surname - McNeely, and the deep lineage connected to it. The test's revelations added more layers to my family's history and gave me a fresh perspective on my identity. This test instilled a new sense of pride for my surname and a deep respect for my ancestors who carried it forward.

P. McNeely

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McNeely: What does the surname McNeely mean?

The surname McNeely is of Scottish origin and is a patronymic form of the personal name 'Neil', which has its roots in the Gaelic "Niall". The prefix "Mc" means "son of" in Gaelic, so McNeely would roughly translate to "son of Neil". The name Neil is believed to have potentially several meanings including 'champion', 'passionate', or 'cloud'. It was quite a popular name amongst the Irish nobility, borne by several legendary kings and warriors, spreading to Scotland through historical Gaelic connections. Thus, the surname McNeely can be considered to carry these connotations of strength and bravery. However, the exact interpretation may differ based on specific family histories and interpretations.

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McNeely: Where does the name McNeely come from?

The last name McNeely is of Irish origin. It is derived from the Gaelic name "Mac an Fhailghigh", which means "son of the poor man". McNeely is a patronymic surname, i.e., derived from the name of a father or ancestor. The prefix "Mac" in the name signifies "son of".

While the surname began in Ireland, it spread to other English-speaking countries due to emigration, particularly after the Great Famine of the mid-19th century when many Irish people moved to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom in search of better opportunities. Today, the last name McNeely is most common in the United States, particularly in states with high populations of individuals of Irish descent, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. However, it also remains common in its country of origin, Ireland.

Variations of the surname McNeely

The surname McNeely has various different spellings from its original forms in Irish Gaelic. It predominantly originates from the Gaelic Mac an Fhileadh, which translates to ‘son of the poet’. Later, it was anglicized into several forms, each reflecting the pronunciation and dialects of different regions. These include: McAnelly, McAnally, McAnulty, McAnelley, McAnally, McAnnelly, MacNeely, MacNealy, MacNeilly, MacNelly and McNelly.

Due to the pronunciation differences and the process of Anglicization, over time, several different spelling variations have emerged. These include: McNeilly, McNeely, McNeale, McNeeley, McNeele, McNeelee, McNeil, MacNeil, MacNeely, MacNeeley, McNee, McNea, McNeel, and McNeal.

It's also worth noting that the "Mac" prefix can also be spelled "Mc," depending on the region and personal preference. The suffix can also be modified or shortened, leading to variants such as McNeel or McNeil.

While these variations all have the same root, they are now considered distinct surnames. As such, it's possible to trace your ancestry through these various spellings, and it may be worthwhile to consider them when conducting genealogical research.

Famous people with the name McNeely

  • Royalton McNeely: American gospel singer who had popular recordings for labels such as MCA and Word Records
  • Clifford McNeely: American jazz saxophonist and clarinetist who has performed with musicians such as Benny Carter, Earl Bostic, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, and Lionel Hampton
  • Ben McNeely: American drummer, part of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and other jazz bands
  • Dale McNeely: American saxophonist, daughter to Clifford McNeely and member of the Clifford McNeely Quartet
  • Sara Lynn McNeely: American actress whose works include feature films such as The Backwoods and Stranger Than Paradise
  • Bruce McNeely: Former NFL offensive lineman who played for the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns
  • Steve McNeely: British jazz guitarist and composer associated with the British jazz funk and acid jazz music scenes
  • Cynthia Kaye McNeely: American composer for film, television, and theater
  • Noel McNeely: English singer/songwriter who has performed with bands such as Popgun and Uptown
  • Mynan McNeely: Canadian ice dancer who is the great granddaughter of Royalton McNeely

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