The Story of the Nehru Surname

What are the origins of the Nehru surname? Also, is there only one Nehru family?

Names and nomenclatures are important, interesting and fun. It’s why we make it a point to put a lot of thought into the ideas for the products that showcase them. Happily, all this hard work has helped us become India’s most accomplished maker of name plates and, in the process, introduced us to hundreds of names, nicknames, family names, and stories connected to tens of thousands of names. Many of these stories are rather intriguing and we think worth sharing with you; something we are going to do in a series of blog posts centred around answers to quirky questions like ‘Are Dwivedis, Trivedis, and Chaturvedis related?’ or ‘Why do most Sindhi surnames ends with –ani?’ or ‘Why do some surnames have two capital letters?’, and more. And on that note, let’s get right into the history of name-calling.

Etymology of the Nehru surname

The Nehru family starts with the Mughal man named Ghiyasuddin Ghazi. He was the City Kotwal i.e. police officer of Delhi prior to the uprising of 1857, under the Mughal rule. After capturing Delhi in 1857, in the year of the mutiny, the British were slaughtering all Mughals everywhere. The British made a thorough search and killed every Mughal so that there were no future claimant to the throne of Delhi. So, the man Ghiyasuddin Ghazi (the word means kafir-killer) adopted a Hindu name Gangadhar Nehru and thus saved his life by the subterfuge. Ghiyasuddin Ghazi apparently used to reside on the bank of a canal (or Nehr) near the Red Fort. Thus, he adopted the name ‘Nehru’ as the family name. The 13th volume of the “Encyclopedia of Indian War of Independence” (ISBN:81-261-3745-9) by M.K. Singh states it elaborately.

 

(Source: Link)

Whether the above story is entirely true is a matter of speculation. However, the theory that the surname ‘Nehru’ comes from the word ‘Nehr’ seems to be true. And given that, there would surely have been other communities residing near a Nehr (canal) who’d have taken that name.

In fact, a Facebook graph search reveals that there are 1000s of people in India with the name Nehru. Check this link: People with the name Nehru.

To read all our stories on names, surnames, and nomenclature, click here.

Nimish Adani

I am the founder & CEO of Engrave. I started off in 2011 with a workshop that engraved photos for customers on to wooden plaques. Soon, we were making plaques, nameplates, canvas prints, decals and dozens of other products for thousands of customers. To help us make these items, we engaged a group of dedicated craftsmen. By 2015, 3 of our dedicated craftsmen had built their own workshops, employing between 6-10 people. By showcasing their skills on a digital platform, these craftsmen had turned into successful entrepreneurs. This success motivated me to transform Engrave in to a platform which could help thousands of Indian artisans and craftspersons - and this lead to the launch of the maker's market in 2015.

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