Short form of Eugene, now used as a boy's given name in its own right, especially in North America. It has been made familiar by film actors such as Gene Autry, Gene Hackman, Gene Kelly, and Gene Wilder. It is also occasionally used as a girl's name, in which case it represents a respelling of Jean.
English and Scottish: patronymic from the medieval personal name Nel or Neal, Anglo-Scandinavian forms of the Gaelic name Niall (see Neill). This was adopted by the Scandinavians in the form Njal and was introduced into northern England and East Anglia by them, rather than being taken directly from Gaelic.