Family name origins & meanings
- Scottish : reduced form of McPhail. Black suggests that it may also be a habitational name from Fail in Ayrshire.
- Northern English (Scottish Borders) : Reaney has it as a nickname from Old French faille ‘erring’ or ‘failure’, but a more probable source is the southern Scots dialect adjective fail, meaning ‘frail’ or ‘weak’.
- Altered spelling of French Faile.
- Altered spelling of German Föhl, Fehl, variants of Feil 2.