What Is the Origin of the Surname Patel?

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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 Lords
  • Aditya Patel: Indian racecar driver
  • Alpesh Patel: American film director
  • Dev Patel: British actor
  • Dinesh Patel: American baseball player
  • Harish Patel: Indian actor
  • Ravji Patel: Indian poet and novelist
  • Upen 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 ProjectThe 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.

FamilySearchAccess 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 RecordsGeneaNet 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 CrestsThere 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.


  • 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.
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Powell, Kimberly. "What Is the Origin of the Surname Patel?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, thoughtco.com/patel-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422586. Powell, Kimberly. (2021, September 8). What Is the Origin of the Surname Patel? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/patel-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422586 Powell, Kimberly. "What Is the Origin of the Surname Patel?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/patel-last-name-meaning-and-origin-1422586 (accessed June 9, 2023).