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Surname Neal - Meaning and Origin

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DNA Perspective: How the iGENEA Test Altered My View on The Neal Heritage and Identity

The arrival of my iGENEA DNA test results set me upon a fascinating voyage through my ancestry, particularly guided by the meaning behind my surname, Neal. Unveiling this part of my identity not only enriched my understanding of my heritage, but also changed how I saw myself.

M. Neal

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Neal: What does the surname Neal mean?

The surname Neal is of Irish origin, primarily deriving from the Gaelic name "Niall" which means "champion" or "passionate." It can also be traced back to the Old Gaelic name "O'Néill" or "descendant of Niall", a reference to a 4th-century king of Ireland. Over time, as people moved and languages evolved, the name "Niall" transformed into different variations, including Neal, Neill, and Neil. These variations can be found prominently in Ireland, Scotland, and England. In some cases, the surname Neal might also originate from the word "neal", a term for a servitor in the Middle Ages. However, the primary and most common origin of the surname Neal is from the Gaelic "Niall," serving as a symbol of strength and passion, which has since been passed down through generations.

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Neal: Where does the name Neal come from?

The most common area for people with the last name Neal is in the United States. According to the 2019 US Census, Neal is the 936th most common last name in the United States with 37,969 individuals having it. Additionally, it is the 891st most common surname in England, where it is estimated to be held by 24,097 people. Outside of the US and UK, Neal is most commonly found in Jamaica where it is estimated to be held by 4,035 individuals.

The most common surnames in the US that are similar to Neal are Nealy, Nealon, Neil, Neilson and Nealey. All these names are derived from the Gaelic name Niall, meaning “cloud or champion”. It is believed that the name Neal came from Norman-French settlers arriving in the UK during Norman conquest in 1066.

Neal is also a common name among African Americans. It is the 864th most popular last name among African Americans and is believed to come from African-Americans who adopted the last name of their slave masters when slavery was abolished in the US.

Neal is one of the oldest surnames and is found all over the world. Although its overall popularity has declined over the last few decades, Neal is still a prominent last name with a rich history all over the US and the world.

Variations of the surname Neal

The surname Neal is of Gaelic origin derived from the name 'Niall'. There are a range of alternative spellings and variants including Neale, Nealle, Neil, Neill, Neale, Niall, Nyall, Niall, Nye, Neall and Nevell.

The surname Neal is mostly found throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is quite a common surname of Irish origin and is often found in counties Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo, and Laois. Neal is one of the oldest established of the Gaelic surnames.

Neal is also found in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, Canada and Australia. Variants of the name are also found in the United States.

The variants Neal and Neale are often found spelled as Nealy or Nealey, amongst others.

The Neal spelling has also developed a diminutive, Nealey, an affectionate form usually used among family members.

The name Neill / Neil / Neall is an anglicisation of the Irish name Niall from the Irish Gaelic Niall or Nuallan, meaning "champion". The Neill variant is also of Scottish origin.

The variants Nye or Nyall have also formed from the original Celtic name.

Variants and spellings of the surname Neal can be found all over the world and have been used for centuries. Its Gaelic origins mean that the surname is steeped in Irish and Scottish culture and tradition and is often associated with an ancestry of ancient kings.

Famous people with the name Neal

  • Tim Neal: American actor and producer, best known for his roles in Officer Downe and The Zodiac Killer
  • Thomas Neal: English footballer, who has played for Middlesbrough F.C. and Leicester City F.C.
  • Diane Neal: American actress, best known for her role as Casey Novak on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Lorenzo Neal: former American football fullback who played for 16 seasons in the NFL
  • Kerwin Neal: former professional basketball player who played in the NBA
  • LaGarrett King Neal: American football running back and fullback who is currently a free agent
  • K.C. Neal: American football defensive tackle and long snapper who is currently a free agent
  • William Neal: retired professional basketball player who played in the NBA
  • Pat Neal: American racing driver who competed in the IMSA GT Championship
  • Chrystee Pharris-Neal: American actress, best known for her roles in the soap operas General Hospital and Passions.

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