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Patel is an Indian surname originally representing a caste of agriculturalists, predominantly in the states of Gujarat. Once considered to be a status name of Hindu and Parsi origin referring to village headsmen during medieval ages, the surname was later adopted by the Patidar community of land owners.[1] Today, there are currently two major branches of people bearing the surname: Leuva and Kadva.[2][3] The branches are distinguished mainly by geographic location and varying cultural practices.


The term patel derives from the word community Patidar, literally "one who holds (owned) pieces of land called patis", implying a higher economic status than that of the landless.[4]

Geographical distribution[edit]

The surname historically originated in the Indian state of Gujarat, where it is among the most common of surnames.[5] Today, the name can be found in a wide variety of regions in India, as well as several other countries. As of 2014, 80.8% of all known bearers of the surname Patel were residents of India. The frequency of the surname was higher than national average in the following states and union territories:[6]

In the 2000 United States Census, Patel ranked as the 172nd most common surname, with 145,000 people living in the U.S. bearing the name. The rank showed a drastic rise from the 1990 census, where the name ranked at 591.[7] At the time of the 2010 census, it climbed to the 95th position among all surnames in the U.S., with 229,973 people bearing the name.[8]

In the United Kingdom, Patel was found to be the most common Indian surname, with over 100,000 bearers of the name in 2011.[9]

Present day[edit]

Immigration of Indians to the United States began as early as the 1940s, with greater numbers to follow in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of them worked in blue collar jobs and used their savings to up to buy property, which they in turn transformed into businesses.[10] As many as 50% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties across US are owned by people of Indian origin. Of this, majority of them bear the surname Patel.[11][12] It is currently estimated that Indians own nearly 22,000 motels and hotels across the U.S., valued collectively at $128 billion.[13]

Modern Patel communities have branched out of agriculture to a variety of trades, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, politics, business and hotel management. Since the 1970s, Patel has been the most common surname among physicians in the United States, surpassing Lee and Smith.[14] In the UK, Patel is currently the second most common physician surname, behind Khan.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Patel', the most common Indian surname: Oxford". The Hindu. PTI. 2016-11-18. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  2. ^ Koli Patel
  3. ^ patel, anoop. "The Gujarat Model That Did Not Work for the Patidars". The Citizen. Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  4. ^ Basu, Pratyusha (2009). Villages, women, and the success of dairy cooperatives in India: making place for rural development. Cambria Press. pp. 51–55. ISBN 978-1-60497-625-0. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Washburn, Edward (2005). India Old and New: With a Memorial Address. p. 178. ISBN 0-543-99414-7. 
  6. ^ Patel Surname Distribution
  7. ^ "Patel, most common Indian surname in US | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  8. ^ Promotions, Center for New Media and. "US Census Bureau 2010 Census". Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  9. ^ "'Patel', the most common Indian surname: Oxford". The Hindu. PTI. 2016-11-18. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  10. ^ Skop, Emily (2007). "Asian Indians and the Construction of Community and Identity". In Ines M. Miyares, Christopher A. Airriess. Contemporary ethnic geographies in America. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 271–90 [277]. ISBN 978-0-7425-3772-9. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  11. ^ Kamdar, Mira (2007). Planet India: how the fastest-growing democracy is transforming America and the world. Simon and Schuster. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7432-9685-4. 
  12. ^ Ungar, Sanford J. (1998). Fresh blood: the new American immigrants. U of Illinois Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-252-06702-0. 
  13. ^ "Powerful Patels: A Look Into the Quiet Community of U.S. Hotel Owners". Commercial Observer. 2016-11-02. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  14. ^ "This is now the most popular last name in medicine". Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  15. ^ "Asian surname Khan is most common among doctors with Patel in second". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-02-15.