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Old 02-13-2001, 06:52 PM
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According to the Oxford Hindi Dictionary, the word paTel has two definitions:
1. headman of a village; village elder.
2. name of a Gujarati trading community.
Nothing about hotels. Could it just be a case of end rhyme?

The OHD etymology for paTel traces it back to Sanskrit paTTakila-. This is derived from the word paTTa, meaning 'a slab, tablet' (for painting or writing upon); (esp.) a copper plate for inscribing royal grants or orders'. From this last sense (plus ?khila, 'piece of land') comes the word paTTakila meaning 'the tenant (by royal edict) of a piece of land'.

The same last-name semantic pattern obtains in other parts of India: Rao and Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, and Chaudhury in Bengal, all meaning village headman hereditary caste.