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Wallah, or -wala or -vala (-wali fem.), is a suffix used in a number of Indo-Aryan languages, like Hindi/Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali or Marathi. It forms an adjectival compound from a noun or an agent noun from a verb.[1] For example, it may indicate a person involved in some kind of activity, where they come from or what they wear (Topiwala),[2][3] for instance:

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.[7]

Ian McDonald has a short story, "Sanjeev and Robotwallah" (2007), and there is a character named 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. ^ "Indian firm's digital solution for urban waste pickers". www.itu.int. 29 July 2021. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  5. ^ "Kabadiwalla Connect | The Buckminster Fuller Institute". www.bfi.org. Retrieved 2021-11-20.
  6. ^ Anand (February 5, 2006). "Reflections of a language-wala". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  7. ^ Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London, p.18.