Explore the Family Name Gale

The meaning of Gale

1. English: nickname from Anglo-Norman French gal, gale, galle ‘cock, cockerel’. 2. English: habitational name from a minor place called with either Middle English gale, gagel (Old English gagel) ‘bog myrtle’, or with Middle English gale ‘fishery paying dues to the lord’ (Old English gafol ‘tax’?) such as Gale in Bickington (Devon) and The Gale, the name of a fishery in Ham and Stone (Gloucestershire). 3. English: topographic name from Middle English gale, gail (Old Norse geil) ‘ravine, narrow lane’, or a habitational name from a place so named such as Gale in Littleborough, Rochdale (Lancashire), or possibly High Gale in Tatham or Tunstall (Lancashire). With the sense ‘narrow lane’ it is found in several street names in medieval York. 4. English: metonymic occupational name for a jailer, or a topographic name for someone who lived near the local jail, or a nickname for a jailbird, occasionally perhaps for someone who worked ‘(at the) jail’, from Middle English gayole, gayll(e), jaiole, jaile (northern Old French gaiole, Parisian Old French jaiole). Compare Galer. 5. English (of Norman origin): perhaps occasionally from the Old French personal name Gale, a Parisian form of ancient Germanic Walo (see Wale and compare Gallon). However, the only examples of it as a personal name in English records seem to belong to (presumably French) foreigners, so it is uncertain whether this was another source of the Middle English surnames. 6. Portuguese: from galé ‘galleon, warship’, presumably a metonymic occupational name for a shipwright or a mariner. 7. Slovenian and Croatian: from a pet form of the personal name Gal. Compare Galle and Gole.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Gale in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census data, the surname Gale has seen a slight shift in popularity from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, Gale was ranked as the 2,197th most popular surname, but by 2010 it had dropped slightly to the 2,296th position, marking a decrease of 4.51%. Despite this decline in rank, the actual count of individuals with the Gale surname increased from 15,193 in 2000 to 15,866 in 2010, an increase of 4.43%. However, when adjusted for population growth, the proportion of those with the Gale surname per 100,000 people decreased by 4.44%.

Proportion per 100k5.635.38-4.44%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Gale

When it comes to the ethnic identity associated with the surname Gale, the Decennial U.S. Census data shows some interesting shifts between 2000 and 2010. The percentage of those identifying as White decreased slightly from 85.14% to 82.62%. At the same time, there was a notable increase in those identifying as Hispanic (from 2.35% to 3.40%), Asian/Pacific Islander (from 0.90% to 1.20%), and Black (from 9.20% to 10.02%). Those identifying as belonging to two or more races also saw an increase, jumping from 1.67% to 2.08%. However, the proportion of those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native decreased from 0.74% to 0.68%.

Two or More Races1.67%2.08%24.55%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.9%1.2%33.33%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.74%0.68%-8.11%

Gale ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Gale is British & Irish, which comprises 48.0% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (21.2%) and Ashkenazi Jewish (7.5%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Scandinavian, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Greek & Balkan.

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British & Irish48.0%
French & German21.2%
Ashkenazi Jewish7.5%

Possible origins of the surname Gale

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Gale have recent ancestry locations all within United Kingdom.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Merseyside, United Kingdom80.90%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom80.90%
Greater London, United Kingdom80.90%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom80.90%
West Midlands, United Kingdom80.70%

What Gale haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Gale is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-Z30 and R-CTS241, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Horne, Stone, Mathews, Smith, Lang, Howard, Wilson, Hill, Davis, Harvey.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Gale surname are: T2b, H, H1. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

galePaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Gale have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Gale" Surname 28.8%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Gale" Surname 27.7%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Gale" Surname 21.7%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Gale" Surname 17.5%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Gale?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Gale are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%