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Wallah, or -wala or -vala (wali fem.), derived from Hindustani, Gujarati, Bengali or Marathi (Suffix forming an adjectival compound with a noun or an agentive sense with a verb),[1] an Indian surname or suffix indicating a person involved in some kind of activity, where they come from or what they wear (Topiwala),[2][3] for example:

Wala or Vala was also used in Parsi and Dawodi Bohra surnames, suggesting the profession or a place-name. For example:

Wala is also used to indicate a specific object or thing among several.

  • chota wala, the small one
  • dusra wala, the second one
  • agla wala, the next one

In British military jargon of the first half of the 20th century, a "base wallah" is someone employed at a military base, or with a job far behind the front lines.[5]

Ian McDonald has a short story "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" (2007) and there is a character "General Robotwallah" in the 2010 novel For the Win by Cory Doctorow.


  1. ^ R. S. McGregor, ed. (1997). The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 915. ISBN 978-0-19-864339-5.
  2. ^ Clements, J. Clancy (1996). The Genesis of a Language: The formation and development of Korlai Portuguese. John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-90-272-7618-6.
  3. ^ Barz, Richard Keith; Siegel, Jeff (1988). Language Transplanted: The Development of Overseas Hindi. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 165–. ISBN 978-3-447-02872-1.
  4. ^ Anand (February 5, 2006). "Reflections of a language-wala". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  5. ^ Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London, p.18.