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Patel is an Indian surname, predominantly in the state of Gujarat, India, representing a community of farmers and later (with the British East India Company) agriculturalists and merchants. The surname was a status name referring to village herdsmen during medieval ages, and was later adopted by various communities of land owners. including the Patidars, Kolis, some Parsis and Muslims. Today, there are currently two major branches of people bearing the surname: Leuva and Kadva. The branches are distinguished mainly by geographic location and varying cultural practices. There are roughly 500,000 Patels outside India, including 150,000 in Britain and 150,000 in the US. Nearly 1 in 10 people of Indian origin in the US is a Patel.
The term patel derives from the word Patidar, literally "one who holds (owned) pieces of land called patis", implying a higher economic status than that of the landless,, ultimately from Sanskrit paṭṭakīla, with the ending -dar (from sanskrit "धार" - supporting, containing, holding) denoting ownership.
The surname is also common in the Indian diaspora. In the United States of America, several people with this surname are involved in the motel business, and this has been noted in the popular media.
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