Neil, Nigel

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Gaelic
Meaning: debated
Eng (NEEL)

An anglicized form of the Gaelic Niall, the name is of debated meaning, it could either mean “cloud”, “champion” or “passion.”

It was borne by Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 6th-century Irish king and eponymous ancestor of the Uí Néill clan who ruled Ireland from the 6th-century to the 10th-century.

The name caught on among Viking settlers in the form of Njal and it was brought back to Iceland and became popular in other areas of Europe with large viking settlements. It was through the Normans, (descendants of Viking settlers), that the name was first introduced to England and it came to be Latinized as Nigellus later evolving into the common British  name, Nigel.

Nigellus is actually derived from the Latin word niger (black) but was only ever used as a form of Niel. It was incorrectly believed by the early Norman clerics that the Norman form of Néel was from the Norman word for black. The common Middle English spelling was Neal.

Currently Neil is the 683rd most popular male name in the United States, (2010). Its original Gaelic form of Niall (NIE-all) is the 91st most popular male name in Ireland (2010) and the 95th most popular in Northern Ireland (2010). Meanwhile, its late Latin equivalent of Nigel is the 932nd most popular male name in the United States and the 239th most popular in the Netherlands (2010).

A feminine offshoot is the floral, Nigella, borne by British TV chef, Nigella Lawson. It is also the scientific name for the plant known as Love-in-the-Mist.

Other feminine forms include the Scottish Neilina, the Icelandic Njála and the continental Scandinavian Nilsine.

Other masculine forms include:

Nils (Danish/Swedish)
Nigel (English)
Njáll (Icelandic)
Néel (Norman)
Njål (Norwegian)




Gender: Feminine

Origin: Old Norse/Icelandic
Meaning: “cloud; mist.”
(MIST) as in English.
The name is derived from the Old Norse mistr meaning “clouds” or “mist.” In the Poetic Edda she is listed as a Valkyrie. The name is currently very popular in Iceland. There is also the popular Englisg first name Misty, which may be considered a derivative.

Kólga, Kolka

  • Gender: Feminine
  • Origin: Old Norse/Icelandic
  • Meaning: “the cool; cool wave; heavy clouds.”
  • Swe/Nor. (KOOL-gah); O.N. (KOLE-gah); Ice. (KULL-kah)

The name is borne in Norse Mythology by one of the nine sea maidens born of the goddess Ran. In modern Iceland, the name has evolved into Kolka, its older rendition often used as a horse name and literally meaning heavy clouds, or overcast in modern Icelandic. The term Kólga was often used in Norse poems to describe the waves. It was a favorite term in kennings. With the revival of Old Norse names in Sweden and Norway, it is possible that Kolga could catch on. The other 3 sisters of whom I will not go into anymore detail are Hefring (Riser); Blodguhadda (Bloody-hair) and Udr (frothing wave) which in Modern Icelandic is Unnur (UN-nur). Hefring and Blodguhadda were never used as names outside the myths.


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: “cloud”

The name is borne in Greek mythology by the cloud bearing nephelai nymphs. They were the daughters of Oceanus and were responsible for the rain and the water which brought nourishment to the earth and plants. It was believed that it was they themselves who were felling the rain from cloudy pitchers they held in the sky.

It was also borne by the mother of Phrixos & Helle by Athamas. Athamas’ evil second wife, Ino, plotted to have Nephele’s children murdered. Nephele sent for a golden ram who took her children to safety.

A third Nephele found in Greek mythology was the mother of centaurs by Ixion. She was a woman created from a cloud

The Latin name is Nebula.

Other forms that should be noted (Note: These forms exist but are not necessarily in usage)

  • Nèfele (Catalan/Galician/Spanish)
  • Néphélé (French)
  • Nefele (Italian/Polish/Portuguese)
  • Nefelė (Lithuanian)


Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish/Estonian
Meaning: “cloud”

The name comes directly from the Finnish and Estonian word for cloud. If you would like to hear the name pronounced by a Finn, you can listen to it here:

The designated name-days are April 19 (Finland), November 21 (Estonia).