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Pashtun name

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Pashtun name

Pashtun names are names used among the Pashtun people.

Given names

Pashtun given names are derived up from the Pashto language itself. After the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan, other names adopted by Pashtuns come from Arabic though can 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, though they come directly from Pashto itself, will display pronunciation differences germane to the two main accents of Pashto. For example "Zarlakht" a Pashtun girl's name as pronounced by Peshawaris (and other northern Pashtuns) will be pronounced as "Zarlasht" by the Pashtuns of Bannu (as well as other Pashtun populations who inhabit rehions further to the south).


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 (IE called by multiple personal names). However, they'll 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 off 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 (village), (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 is 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. 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, similar to how Gujjars would use Gujjar or Baloch people will simply use Baloch, These are names of the undivided ethnic groups. Pathan is used as a surname among Pashtun communities living in the Indian subcontinent. Afghan is an archaic name, and has been used among Pashtuns in Iran to signify other Iranians of their Pashtun ancestry.

Khan is also a name used commonly among Pashtuns, though it is not a native to the Pashtun language and is adopted by Pashtuns via cross cultural exchanges between of Turko-Mongol peoples when the Pashtuns may have been formerly present in more northern parts of Central Asia now predominantly populated by Turkic peoples. Khan also means wealthy in Persian, which could be another source of the name.


Pashtun names are found among the Pashtun population, and some South Asian muslims and Tajiks 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 its people being tribally Pashtuns. The assimilated communities may have traces of people with given names derived exclusively from Pashto.


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