Patel Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin

In this article we'll look at the origin and meaning of the surname Patel and how popular it is in the United States. We'll also look at the race and ethnic origin of people in the United States who are named Patel.

Patel, like all of the names we have data for, is identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as a surname which has more than 100 occurrences in the United States in the Decennial Census survey. The most recent statistics we have for the Patel surname is from the 2010 census data.

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What is the Origin and Meaning of the Last Name Patel?

The surname Patel comes from the Indo-European language Gujarati and was originally translated as either headman or village chief. It was initially given as a name to a person in a position of leadership. The Gujarati term pat or patlikh, meaning farmer or someone who owns land, may also have influenced the development of Patel as a surname.

A combination of the words pate (head) and el (little) in the Gujarati language as a nickname meaning little head may have played a lesser role in the formation of the name.

The name in India is most associated with the Western Indian state of Gujarat. It is considered part of the Koli caste within that state and is associated with people of political influence. Agricultural work and landownership are closely associated with the Patel name within Gujarat.

Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950) is a notable bearer of the surname. Patel was born into an agricultural family but as a young man, both he and his brother traveled from India to England. While there they both became lawyers. In 1917 Vallabhbhai became influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and became part of forming several non-violent campaigns to get justice for the peasants of Gujurat.

Vallabhbhai began a political career that saw him be pivotal in Indian independence. Patel was also instrumental in bringing together several hundred princely states into the Republic of India. Along the way, he ruffled the feathers of the controlling British government and was arrested frequently throughout the 1930s and the Second World War.

Where Does Patel Rank in the Most Common U.S. Names?

According to the data, Patel is ranked #95 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

The Patel surname appeared 229,973 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 77.96 would have the surname Patel.

We can also compare 2010 data for Patel to data from the previous census in 2000. The table below contains all of the statistics for both years in a side-by-side comparison.

2010 2000 Change (%)
Rank 95 172 -57.68%
Count 229,973 145,066 45.28%
Proportion per 100k 77.96 53.78 36.71%

Race and Ethnic Origin of People with the Last Name Patel

We also have some data on the ancestry of people with the surname Patel.

The below race categories are the modified race categories used in the Census Bureau's population estimates program. All people were categorized into six mutually exclusive racial and Hispanic origin groups: "White only", "Black only", "American Indian and Alaskan Native only", "Asian and Pacific Islander only", "Two or More Races", and "Hispanic".

For the most recent 2010 census data, the race/ethnic origin breakdown for Patel was:

  • 2.10%, or 4,829 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic White Only".
  • 0.38%, or 874 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Black Only".
  • 94.78%, or 217,968 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander Only".
  • 0.65%, or 1,495 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native".
  • 1.65%, or 3,795 total occurrences, were "Non-Hispanic of Two or More Races".
  • 0.44%, or 1,012 total occurrences, were "Hispanic Origin".

Note: Any fields showing (S) means the data was suppressed for privacy so that the data does not in any way identify any specific individuals.

Since we have data from the previous census in 2000, we can also compare the values to see how the popularity of Patel has changed in the 10 years between the two census surveys.

2010 2000 Change (%)
White 2.10% 1.55% 30.14%
Black 0.38% 0.26% 37.50%
Asian and Pacific Islander 94.78% 91.37% 3.66%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.65% 0.41% 45.28%
Two or More Races 1.65% 5.84% -111.88%
Hispanic 0.44% 0.57% -25.74%

Data Source(s)

All of the data on this page is sourced from the Decennial Census survey, from the United States Census Bureau.

Link To or Reference This Page

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  • "Patel Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com. Accessed on January 31, 2023. https://namecensus.com/last-names/patel-surname-popularity/.

  • "Patel Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/patel-surname-popularity/. Accessed 31 January, 2023

  • Patel Last Name Popularity, Meaning and Origin. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from https://namecensus.com/last-names/patel-surname-popularity/.