Pakhtoon / Pushtun Names

A majority of Pakistanis have names that are instantly recognizable as Islamic names. The centuries of Islamic influences, from Arabia and through Persia, manifest in the Arabic and Persian sounding names of the people. Still, there exists among many an understanding that there was life and culture in these lands before Islam became the dominant religion. While most pre-islamic names are lost to history, some survive to this day thanks to those who have stayed true to their own cultures.

Lets start this list with some pure Pakhtoon names. The pakhtoon (Pathans to us Punjabis) are one community that despite its conservative islamic leanings has been able to preserve aspects of its own culture. In the list below you will notice a method to Pakhtoon names where objects of beauty, be it animals, birds, flowers, gems, precious metals, natural phenomenon, or human qualities, are the inspiration for these names. This list is by no means authoritative or complete so your help in editing or expanding it is greatly appreciated.

Pashtun names for girls: Ariana (old name of afghanistan – land of arians),  Badrai (fairy on lake saifulmalook),  Balbala (bulbul),  Brekhna (lightning),  Bukhtawara (lucky),  Durkhanai,  Gabina (honey),  Galai (hail),  Gulalai (beautiful),  Ghatola (tulip),  Gulbano (flower princess),  Gulghotai (flower bud),  Gulpalhra (flower petal),  Gulmakai,  Gulmina (flower of love),  Gulnar (flower from fire),  Gulsanga (branch leaden with flowers),  Gulwarin (one who sprinkles flowers),  Helai (swan),  Hilia (hope), Hina (liver-denoted closeness / akin to jigar, jigar gosha in urdu),  Husai (gazelle),  Kashmala (flower),  Kawtara (pigeon),  Kontara (dove),  Khatol (poppy flower),  Lalzari (amber & gold),  Lamba (flame),   Mahzala (moonlight),  Malala /Malalai (melancholy-a folk heroine),  Mina (love),  Nangialai (honorable),  Natkai (nose ring),  Nazanina,  Nazo,  Niazmina (very dear),  Palwasha (moon light),  Pashmina (woolen),  Pekhla (dew),  Pokhla,  Reshmina (silken),  Reshtina (truthful),  Roshina (gives light),  Rokhana (bright),  Sandara (song),  Sanga (branch),  Sangina (polite),  Shaghalay (content),  Shamira (sweet),  Shandana,  Shanzai,  Shaperai (fairy),  Shastai (chrysanthemum),  Shughla (ray of light),  Silai (wind),  Spogmay (moon),  Storai (star),  Torpikai (one with black hair),  Wagma (breeze),  Warda (rose),  Zalah (shiny),  Zareena (golden),  Zarghuna (green),  Zarka (crane-bird),  Zarlakhta (golden branch),  Zarmina (golden love),  Zarsanga (golden branch),  Zarwareen (one who sprinkles gold),  Zhalai (hail)

Pashtun names for boys: Abasin (river Indus),  Amail (necklace),  Angaar (ember),  Asfand,  Asfandyar,  Atal (hero),  Awalmir (first among kings),  Azmaray (another form of Zmaray-lion),  Babrak (lion cub/small lion),  Bakhtawar (lucky), Baryal/Baryalai (brave),  Batoor (brave),  Baz (eagle),  Behram,  Darun (respectable),  Daryab (river),  Daulat (wealth),  Emal,  Ghatool (tulip),  Gul (flower),  Gulab (rose),  Lawangin,  Mashal,  Mirwais,  Nang (honor),  Nangial (honorable),  Qajeer,  Olasyar (friend of the people),  Sangar (battlefield),  Sangin (polite),  Sangrez (stone breaker),  Sarban (guide),  Sarbaz (eagle),  Shingul (blue flower), Shpol (halo around moon),  Sparlay (spring season),  Spingul (white flower),  Surgul (red flower),  Toran (brave),  Torgul (black flower),  Toryal (swordsman),  Toryalai (brave),  Zaland (bright),  Zalmay (young),  Zarak (gold),  Zardad,  Zargar (goldsmith),  Zargul (golden flower),  Zarkanay (goldstone),  Zaryab (possessor of gold/rich),  Zmarak (lion cub),  Zmaray (lion),

May 4, 2007 at 11:50 pm 6 comments

Pakistani names begining with the letter B

Lets continue this list. Now onto the letter B. I am surprised by how few names I have been able to come up with for this list. Nonetheless, the list is going up. A few people S and Xill-e-Ilahi have already contributed to the A-list. I am hoping everyone who comes up here leaves something new in the comment box.

Girls names begining with B: Batool, Beenish, Benazir, Bilquis, Bindiya, Bushra,

Boys names begining with B: Babar, Badar/Badr, Bakhtawar, Bashir, Baqir, Behr, Bilal,

April 24, 2007 at 12:14 am 7 comments

Pakistani nicknames

First among commentators S suggested a section for Pakistani nicknames. Best idea i heard since yesterday, so here it is.

Nicknames for Girls:

Gurya (means doll) – This was my moms nickname as a kid in her family. It stuck. I have always heard her being referred to as Gurya, be it from her parents, her siblings and cousins, and then our cousins, all have called her Gurya baji, Gurya khala or something similar.

Dolly – Interestingly, my moms younger sister was nicknamed Dolly. Another take on the Doll theme, or lack of imagination when it comes to choosing nicknames?

Others that come to mind are SweetyMoti,

Nicknames for Boys:

Sometimes nicknames are derived from emasculating the person’s name. In the case of my brother Murtaza, his name became Murti. It has stuck to this day. He doesn’t mind.

In school he played soccer. His fancy footwork allowed him to evade most challengers. And the boys on the football/soccer field started calling him Choee Moee. Its the local name of a plant that wilts when touched, and he ran from the opposing players like death.

Our youngest brother got nicknamed Guddu, means a male doll. There is a serious doll fetish in our family, I know. This was back in the days when action figures hadn’t been introduced in Pakistan. So the name was decidedly uncool. Asad hated his nick, but it had already stuck before his opinion could be voiced. Only now at 25 has he been able to earn enough respect to kill his nick.

One of my mom’s younger brothers was born while my grandfather was posted as a Pakistan army officer in East Pakistan. That being the land of the Bengalis, the newborn was nicknamed Bangali, or Bangla Bhai. As with most nicks it stuck and that mamoo( mothers’ brother) is called bangali by all his siblings and cousins. Us, the kids dare not though.

The youngest among that family of eight children got nicked Tony. Don’t know why. But all of us call him Tony mamoo.

I never really had a nickname and, now that I think about it, I am feeling kind of left out. For a while there, mom was calling me Al Bundy but, despite my best attempts to sell it, the rest of the clan didn’t warm up to it.

other nicks that come to the mind: Babloo, Pappu, Chotu (small), Jugnu (fire fly), Bunty, Motoo (fatty), ..

April 19, 2007 at 4:32 pm 14 comments

Pakistani names begining with A

Lets start from the top. All these lists are going to keep getting updated as we come upon new names.

Girls: Abida, Abiha, Adeela, Afsheen, Aisha/Ayesha, Alina, Amina, Ambar, Ambereen, Amina, Ammara, Arifa, Arzoo, Asma, Atiqa, Atiya, Azra

Boys: Ali, Abbas, Abid, Abrar, Adam, Adeel, Adil, Afzal, Afzaal, Ahmed, Ahmer, Ahsan, Akbar, Akif, Akram, Aleem, Altaf, Amir, Anwar, Aon, Aqeel, Arif, Arsalan, Arshad, Asad, Asim, Aslam, Ayaz, Azam, Azeem, Aziz

April 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm 10 comments

Why a blog for Pakistani names

Some one came to my chaikhanah (pakistani tea house) through an internet search for peoples names in Pakistan. The bright spark that I am, I decided to blog about it here. Here is the idea. A blog about Pakistani names. It’ll mostly be a list. But as we go along we’ll get into the finer points of Pakistani names. In the header are the two lists. One is for boys names, and the other is for girls. Incase a name is used for either gender, please put it up in both. This being a list, I’ll need help from my family and friends, but also from readers. Please contribute, if you don’t see a name up there.

I don’t know why the person had come there searching for Pakistani names. Was it someone looking for baby names, was it someone inquisitive about my country and its people. Whatever the reason, this blog is dedicated to you, anonynous web surfer. 

Oh on a final note, lets start with my name. I am Ali Raza Khan. Ali is a popular Islamic/Arabic name for boys. In the post Islamic context it is used with deferrance to Ali the cousin and son-in-law of prophet Mohammed. Raza is another Islamic name. It is also written as Reza in persian cultures. Khan is a very common name in Pakistan, and among the muslims of the India. It denotes a connection to the north western areas of Pakistan and to the Pathan/Pakhtoon/Pashtun ethnic group. I however, am not from that group. I am from Punjab and my ancestors were Baloch who settled in Punjab a few centuries ago after coming here along with the Baloch general Mir Chakar Khan.

Oh a final note: I will try my best to put the names in alphabetical order as posts as we go along. Lacking database support here on the blog, I’ll entertain other brightspark ideas on the structure and format of presentation here. 

April 18, 2007 at 10:29 pm 3 comments


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