Gowda was originally a honorific used by the administrative head of a village. Typically, such a head owns lands and holds political and social power in the village.
Now, Gowda is also used as a hereditary surname by descendants of the village chiefs. Variants of the surname include Gowder or Gauder or Gowdar (usually in North Karnataka and Nilgiris) and Gowdru (honorific, plural).
The following is a list of notable people with last name Gowda
- Junje Gowda - Built Mahadeshwar Temple at M M Hills
- Halumatha Siddana Gowda Patil - Father Co-Operative Soicties
- D. B. Chandre Gowda - former Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly
- D. V. Sadananda Gowda - former Chief minister of Karnataka, Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation
- H. D. Deve Gowda - former Prime minister of India, former Chief minister of Karnataka
- H. D. Kumaraswamy - former Chief minister of Karnataka
- Javare Gowda - Kannada author and winner of the Padma Shri and the Karnataka Ratna and Nadoja awards
- Kempe Gowda I - founder of the Bangalore city
- Krishna Byre Gowda - current Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka
- Shantaveri Gopala Gowda - Socialist leader and politician
- Narayana Gowda - President of the pro- organization based in Karnataka
- S. M. Krishna - former Chief minister of Karnataka
- D. K. Shivakumar - Minster for Energy
- Kuvempu - Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Critic, Thinker, Professor, Vice Chancellor
- Balagangadharanatha Swamiji - Religious leader
- Yash (actor) - Actor
- Ambareesh - Actor
- "Gowda Surname, page no. 80 - TENANTS MOVEMENTS IN UTTARA KANNADA DISTRICT AND THE KAG0DU SATYAGRAHA: THEIR IMPACT ON TENANCY RELATIONS AND LAND LEGISLATIONS IN KARNATAKA" (PDF). Shodganga. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
- George Matthew. "Shift in Indian Politics: 1983 Elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka". Concept Publishing Company. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
- K. T. Margaret, ed. (1999). The Open Classroom: A Journey Through Education. Orient Blackswan. p. 131. ISBN 978-81-250-1669-4.
- Kumar Suresh Singh; Anthropological Survey of India (2002). People of India. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 408. ISBN 978-81-85938-99-8.