A Scottish and Irish surname, McNeil comes from the Gaelic term MacNeill which means the son of Neil. The Gaelic term ’neill’ means a champion. The spelling variations for McNeil include MacNeill, O’Neill, McNeal, MacNeilage, MacGreal, MacNeel, MacNeall and MacNiel. In England the McNeil families primarily live in Durham, Lancashire, Cumberland, Yorkshire, the city of London and in Glamorgan in Wales. In Scotland many McNeil families originated on the western Scottish islands of Colonsay, Barra, Gigha, Taynish and Oronsay. Some now live in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Inverness-shire. Other McNeil families later moved to Ireland. Within the United States the earliest McNeil families settled in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois and Connecticut. Famous: Dixie McNeil (footballer from England), Rita McNeil (singer and songwriter from Canada), Freeman McNeil (professional football player), Lori McNeil (professional tennis player), Andrew McNeil (professional footballer from Scotland), Norm McNeil (professional baseball player), Carla Speed McNeil (science fiction writer), George McNeil (professional ice hockey player), Charles K. McNeil (devised the point spread in sports gambling), Colin McNeil (professional boxer from Scotland) and John McNeil (Civil War Union Army General).