Pashtun name

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Pashtun names are names used among the Pashtun people.

Given names[edit]

Pashtun given names are derived up from the Pashto language itself. When Islam was introduced officially in Afghanistan, other names adopted by Pashtuns came from Arabic though at times, take the phonology of Pashto, e.g. the Arabic "Zulaikha", a woman's name, can become "Zlaikha" due to the consonant cluster nature of Pashto. Other names come directly from Pashto itself and will display pronunciation differences germane to the two main accents of Pashto. For example "Zarlakht" a Pashtun girl's name as pronounced in Peshawar and Kabul (and other northern Pashtuns) will be pronounced as "Zarlasht" by the Pashtuns of Kandahar and Quetta (as well as other Pashtun populations who inhabit regions further to the southern regions of Afghanistan and northern Pakistan).


Surnames can either come from being borrowed from other languages or from the Pashto language or used from given names. There are many different types of surnames used among Pashtuns.

Many Pashtuns that come from developing regions are known by their mononym due to a lack of a legal identification system. They may also have multiple mononyms (i.e. may be called by multiple personal names). However, they will know the name of their tribe even prior to registering a legal identity.

Understanding Pashtun tribal systems makes it easier to understand Pashtun surnames based on tribal lineage. Many Pashto last names come from the name of the tribe or the subdivisions of a specific tribe: in this case their name would end in -zai (son) or khel (group), (e.g. a Ghilzai Pashtun would likely have Ghilzai as their last name and a Pashtun from specifically the Adamkhel subtribe may use Adamkhel as their last name). Some tribal names have no suffix (e.g. Afridi, Sarbanri, Abdali). One must understand that many Pashtun tribes are composed of super tribes and subtribes, in other words, there are several tribes within tribes branching off and ranked in different tiers. For example, an Omarkhel Yusufzai Pashtun would have the option to use the name of their super tribe name "Sarbanri", their tribe Yusufzai, or Omarkhel, a subdivision of Yusufzai. Tribal names are usually patrilineal. The ancestral line of females generally is not included as part of the identity.

Some Pashtun families that modernize pick a random name typically derived from Persian or Arabic and continue it as a family name down the line. That name may have little to no relation to their tribal standings. Other-times, the first name of the father may become the last name of the child, and so on and so forth.

Surnames based on location are not common due to the rural transhumance semi-nomadic nature of Pashtuns in most their history, there are not surnames tied to a cities or locations. But rarely some tribes identify them with location like khostwal, Bannuchis, Bunerwal etc. This is why Pashtuns are identified with groups of people moving around. However, locations are given a name based on the people that occupy them.

Few Pashtun communities use the name "Pashtun" as their last name, as Gujjars will use Gujjar or Baloch people will use Baloch. These are names of the undivided ethnic groups. Pathan is used as a surname among Pashtun communities living in the Indian subcontinent because they are known as Pathans or Pashtuns to their neighbouring communities, so they simplify it as a surname rather than their tribal name (it is important to mention one's tribal surname among Pashtuns, but in lands where they are a minority Afghans or Pathans will often be used instead). Afghan is an archaic name, and has been used among Pashtuns in Iran to signify other Iranians their Pashtun ancestry because they are known as Afghans to Iranians and the Arab world.

Khan is also a name used commonly among Pashtuns, though it is not native to the Pashtun language and was adopted by Pashtuns via cross cultural exchanges between Turko-Mongol peoples and the Pashtuns when the Pashtun lands were ruled by Mongol peoples and the Turk people. Khan also means king or leader or strong or royal etc., which could be another reason for its adoption. Mostly Khan is used by those pashtuns who have served Turko-Mongol rulers over central Asia and south Asia


Pashtun names are found among the Pashtun population, and some Tajiks and South Asians will carry Pashtun names, a sign of Pashtun ancestry among them, at-least patrilineal ancestry. The dardic Pashayis and Indo-Aryan Hindkowans do not speak Pashto but have 30-60% of their people familiar with and living in a Pashtun culture. The assimilated communities may have traces of people with given names derived exclusively from Pashto.