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This article is about the Indian use of the word "Munshi". For the West African tribe, sometimes known as the Munshi, see Tiv people.

Munshi (Urdu:مُنشی; Hindi: मुंशी ) is a Persian word originally the name of a contractor, writer or secretary, later used in Mughal Empire and British India of the native language teachers or secretaries employed by Europeans.[1]


Munshi (Persian منشی) is a Persian word and it was given as a respected title to a person who has achieved a mastery over languages, especially in British India. It became a surname to those people whose ancestors had received this title. In modern Persian this word is also used to address clerks and secretaries, so they also use it as their surname.

In Education[edit]

Today Munshi is also a degree in South Asia, that is given after passing a certain course for example basic reading, writing, and maths. The advanced degree was Munshi Fazil or Munshi Fadhil. Munshi is also a title that a graduate of a Munshi course is allowed to attach to his name.

Munshies in Service of the British[edit]

Since in British India Munshies were hired as clerks in the government, the word Munshi also became the name of their profession. The Munshies worked as accountants and secretaries as well. The family name Munshi belongs to people whose families were in the profession of Munshi and hence were respected as literate people. Abdul Karim, known as "The Munshi" was an especially valued and respected Indian servant of Queen Victoria.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Munshi". Encyclopædia Britannica 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  2. ^ Visram, Rozina (2004). "Karim, Abdul (1862/3–1909)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/42022.  (subscription required) for full access