Nepal Personal Names

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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

Online Tools[edit | edit source]

Surnames[edit | edit source]

The people of Nepal are predominately Tibeto-Mongolian but they speak Khas, a dialect of a northern Indic language.

  • Many Nepalese use their ethnicity or caste name as their surname.[1]
  • Pre-married girls use their father's surname but after marriage, they use their husband's surname.[2]
  • Nepali surnames are divided into three origins: Indo-Aryan languages, Tibeto-Burman languages and indigenous origins.
  • Surnames of Khas community contains
  • toponyms as Ghimire, Dahal, Pokharel, Sapkota from respective villages,
  • occupational names as (Adhikari, Bhandari, Karki, Thapa).
  • Many Khas surnames includes suffix as -wal, -al as in Katwal, Silwal, Dulal, Khanal, Khulal, Rijal.
  • Kshatriya titles such as Bista, Kunwar, Rana, Rawat, Rawal, Dhami, Shah, Thakuri, Chand, were taken as surnames by various Kshetri and Thakuris. Khatri Kshetris share surnames with mainstream Pahari Bahuns. Other popular Chhetri surnames include Basnyat, Bogati, Budhathoki, Khadka, Khandayat, Mahat, Raut.
  • Similarly, Brahmin surnames such as Acharya, Bhatta, Joshi, Pandit, Sharma, Upadhyay were taken by Pahari Bahuns.
  • Jaisi Bahuns bear distinct surnames as Kattel, Banstola, Jaisi, Padhya and share surnames with mainstream Bahuns.
  • Other Bahun surnames include Aryal, Bhattarai, Banskota, Chaulagain, Devkota, Dhakal, Gyawali, Koirala, Mainali, Pandey, Panta, Laudari Pandey, Paudel, Regmi, Subedi, Tiwari, Upreti, Lamsal, and Dhungel.
  • Many Indian immigrants into Pahari zone are assimilated under Khas peoples and they carried ancestral clan names as Marhatta, Rathaur, Chauhan.
  • Khas-Dalits surnames include Kami, Bishwakarma or B.K., Damai, Mijar, Dewal, Pariyar, Ranapaheli, Sarki.
  • Newar groups of multiethnic background bears both Indo-Aryan surnames (like Shrestha, Joshi, Pradhan) and indigenous surnames like Maharjan, Dangol.
  • Magars bear surnames derived from Khas peoples such as Baral, Budhathoki, Lamichhane, Thapa and indigenous origins as Dura, Gharti, Pun, Pulami.
Other Himalayan Mongoloid castes bears Tibeto-Burmese surnames like Gurung, Tamang, Thakali, Sherpa.
Various Kiranti ethnic group contains many Indo-Aryan surnames of Khas origin which were awarded by the government of Khas peoples. These surnames are Rai, Subba, Jimmi, Dewan depending upon job and position hold by them. *Terai community consists both Indo-Aryan and Indigenous origin surnames.
  • Terai Brahmins bears surnames as Jha, Mishra, Pandit, Tiwari.
  • Terai Rajput and other Kshatriya groups bears the surnames Chauhan, Singh, Rajput, Verma, Pal.
  • Marwari surnames like Agrawal, Baranwal, Jain, Khandelwal, Maheshwari, Tapadia are also common.
  • Nepalese Muslims bears Islamic surnames such as Ali, Ansari, Begum, Khan, Mohammad, Pathan. Other common Terai surnames are Yadav, Mahato, Kamat, Thakur, Dev, Chaudhary, Kayastha.[3]

Given Names[edit | edit source]

  • There are several varied naming conventions in Nepal. The names of children are generally announced by the elder most member of Nepalese households.
  • For Hindu Nepalis, children are named on the 11th day after they are born during a ceremony called ‘Nwaran’. A priest visits the home to give the child a name according to the baby’s birth details and corresponding horoscope.
  • The Nepalese names usually come from Sanskrit and Pali. Each name has its own significance and meaning. Some of the names are also reflective of the beauty of Nepal. For example, Himalaya is a common Nepalese name which translates to snow capped mountains.[1]
  • Nepalese boys may have their middle names like Prasad, Bahadur, Maan, Kumar, Ratna, Mani, etc. according to their caste. For example, Buddha Ratna Shakya in which Buddha is the first name, Ratna is the middle name and Shakya is a surname.
  • Similarly, girls also may add middle names like Kumari, Maya, etc. For example, Mann Maya Lama in which Mann is the first name, Maya is the middle name and Lama is last or surname. Moreover, middle names are not necessary to add. It's only if their parents wish otherwise it's not compulsion.<ref name="quora">

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Naming", in Nepalese Culture Culture Atlas,, accessed 7 March 2021.
  2. "how Do Nepalese Names Work?" in Quora,, accessed 7 March 2021.
  3. "Surnames by country", in Wikipedia,, 8 March 2021.