Humanities › History & Culture What Is the Origin of the Surname Patel? Share Flipboard Email Print John Phillips / Getty Images History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated October 03, 2019 Patel is a very common surname among people of Indian descent. This surname of Indian origin was first ascribed to leaders or chiefs and there are now many variations of Patel that carry similar meaning. To know how the popular name came to be, you have to start at the beginning. The Origin of Patel The last name Patel carries Indian roots and remains most common among Indians. The word comes from Gujarati, an Indo-European language spoken in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The Hindu name originally translated to "headman" or "village chief" and was first given to those in positions of leadership. It can also mean "farmer," derived from the Gujarati word pat or patlikh, and is often assigned to the owner or tenant of a piece of land. Patel can even be a nickname and usually means "little head" in this context. This version stems from the morphemes pate (head) and -el (little). Patel is, of course, prevalent in India but also very popular in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. The surname may be written as Patil in the Portuguese regions of India. Other alternate spellings include Patell, Putel, Putell, and Patill. Famous People Named Patel The Patel name is so popular in India that there are countless well-known Patels in the world, their careers spanning politics, the arts, sports, and beyond. This list includes just a handful of famous Patels: Adam Patel: Member of the British House of LordsAditya Patel: Indian racecar driverAlpesh Patel: American film directorDev Patel: British actorDinesh Patel: American baseball playerHarish Patel: Indian actorRavji Patel: Indian poet and novelistUpen Patel: Bollywood actor and model Genealogy Resources for the Surname Patel A common last name like Patel can make researching your family history challenging. These resources are designed to point you in the right direction so that you can learn the origin of your name and even discover your lineage. iGENEA Patel Surname Project: The Patel Surname Project is open to anyone with the last name Patel, regardless of the spelling. By combining traditional document-based genealogy research with DNA testing, researchers might be able to help you understand your ancestry. Use the link to order your DNA test and become a member of this project. FamilySearch: Access 870,000 free historical records and lineage-linked family trees posted for any surname, Patel and its variations included, through FamilySearch. This is a free genealogy website hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is designed to connect generations. Visit the link and create an account to start digging. GeneaNet: Patel Records: GeneaNet includes archival records, family trees, and other resources. It concentrates on records and families from France and other European countries and instantly generates thousands of results. This link is already set to search Patel. Family Crests: There is not a single dedicated Patel family crest or coat of arms. Contrary to popular belief, these traditional symbols are assigned not to a general last name but to individuals bearing the last name. Once a deserving person is granted one, it is passed down through a line of male descendants. After you've tracked down information about your lineage using the above resources, you might be able to find a coat of arms that has been assigned to your family of Patels. Sources Cottle, B. "The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames." Penguin, 1967.Hanks, Patrick. "Dictionary of American Family Names." Oxford University Press, 2003.Smith, Elsdon C. "American Surnames." Genealogical Pub. Co., 2003.