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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 used for a contractor, writer or secretary, and later used in Mughal Empire and British India for native language teachers or secretaries employed by Europeans.[1]


Munshi (Persian منشی) is a Persian word, used as a respected title for persons who achieved 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 and those persons use it as their surname.

In Education[edit]

Munshi in modern times is a degree in South Asia given on passing a specified course such as basic reading, writing, and maths. An advanced degree is Munshi Fazil or Munshi Fadhil. A graduate of a Munshi course is permitted to attach the title to his or her name.

Munshies in Service of the British[edit]

Clerks, accountants and secretaries hired by the government in British India were known as Munshies. The family name Munshi was adopted by families with members in the profession of Munshi. Abdul Karim, known as "The Munshi','" was a 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