The etymology of the word is unclear. The -dar suffix, found in havildar and other words, means "holder". Thus the word means "holder of dafa' ". The intended meaning of dafa' is, however, unclear. In Arabic it means "pay" or "push", while in Persian, the more obvious source of the word, it means repulsion. It is unclear what role, if any, the word daffadar indicated in the Mughal Empire before it was used as a British Raj rank.