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Surname O'Neal - Meaning and Origin

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O'Neal: What does the surname O'Neal mean?

The last name O'Neal is an Irish surname, derived from the Gaelic Ó Néill. It was used as a surname to indicate the descendants of multiple branches of the famous and influential O'Neil Irish dynasty. O'Neills were initially rulers of Ulster, and were a powerful and and respected family until the English took over in the 1600s.

The O'Neills had been described as the “longest unbroken lineage in Europe” and “the greatest and most powerful native Irish family.” As a result, Irish descendants who use the O'Neal surname are thought of as connected to this powerful family and its numerous branches.

Today, the O’Neills are thought of as families with strong connections and interesting history. The modern day O'Neills are spread out throughout the world, while still maintaining their Irish roots.

The O’Neills still hold strong prominence in Ireland, and many use the name as a source of pride, honouring the O’Neills dynasty of leaders that once reigned there. Consequently, the O'Neal surname is associated with strength, power, and ultimately, Irish pride.

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O'Neal: Where does the name O'Neal come from?

The last name O'Neal is most commonly found in the United States, particularly in the southern states. Its geographic distribution across the country is highest in Louisiana, where it is ranked 25th most common. The last name O'Neal is also frequently found in Texas and Mississippi, where it is the 4th and 24th most popular last name, respectively. In Kentucky, where it is the 3rd most popular last name, Turner O'Neal is a well-known basketball player who competed in the NBA.

Outside of the US, the last name O'Neal is common in Canada, especially in the Atlantic provinces. It is particularly popular in Newfoundland and Labrador, where it is the 9th most common last name. The last name's origins can be traced to Gaelic cultures and it is thought to have derived from the O'Neill surname.

This name is also quite common in Ireland. The O'Neill family was one of the most powerful families in Irish history, and its members occupied the High Kingship of Ireland at one point in history. This surname is so prevalent in Ireland that it is the most numerous surname in the county of County Antrim.

Finally, O'Neal is also popular in Scotland, where it occurs frequently in Ayrshire and in several other districts. This surname is believed to have first been brought to Scotland by an Irishman named Patrick O'Neill, who settled there in the 16th century.

Variations of the surname O'Neal

The surname O'Neal is of Irish origin, most commonly found in the province of Ulster, where it is the twentieth most common surname. Variants of the name include O'Neale, O'Neail, O'Neil, O'Neill, and Oneal.

The O'Neal variant is likely derived from the Gaelic Irish surname O hEighnalaigh or ‘descendant of Eighnalaigh Cuidighthigh’, a term of endearment meaning ‘Constant Guardian’. The O'Neill variant could have come from the Anglo-Norman MacNeil or MacNeill as a result of the Plantation of Ulster in the 16th and 17th centuries.

O'Neale and O'Neail are both likely variants which have arisen out of anglicisation of the Burnett of Ulster in the 16th and 17th centuries. That is, the English language was still not fully established in many areas of Ulster at that time and, as a result, slight variations in pronunciation and spelling were common.

Oneal is likely derived from the surname O(h)N(e)ill. It is possible to assume that this variant arose as a result of the rapid conception and change in America’s English language in the 18th century.

In conclusion, O'Neal and its variants represent an Irish surname of a thousand-year-old origin. Variants of the name include O'Neale, O'Neail, O'Neil, O'Neill, and Oneal. All variants share a common ancestor, though they may have derived from different sources.

Famous people with the name O'Neal

  • Shaquille O'Neal: Hall of Fame NBA player and 4-time NBA champion.
  • Jermaine O'Neal: former NBA player and 6-time NBA All-Star.
  • Ryan O'Neal: Academy Award nominated actor.
  • Ashley O'Neal: professional bodybuilder and founder of the Dedicated 2 Fitness gym.
  • Patrick O'Neal: American actor of stage, screen, and television.
  • Collin O'Neal: former professional football player and current sports radio host.
  • Charles O'Neal: American writer and actor, best known for his roles in the television programs Blacklist and Extant.
  • Matt O'Neal: professional skateboarder and host of the NBC show American Ninja Warrior.
  • Michael O'Neal: American actor and comedian, best known for his role in the sitcom Friends.
  • Jimmy O'Neal: Major League Baseball pitcher and Cy Young Award winner.

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