It is apparently derived from the Afghan name for their own language, Pushtu or Pukhtu, and may be traced back to the Paktues of Herodotus.
In 1901 the total number of Pathans in all India was nearly 31 millions, but the speakers of Pushtu numbered less than 14 millions.
The tribe, clan and section are alike distinguished by patronymics formed from the name of the common ancestor by the addition of the word zai or khel; zai being a corruption of the Pushtu word zoe, meaning son, while khel is an Arabic word meaning an association or company.
ROHILLA (a Pushtu word for "mountaineer"), a tribe of Afghan marauders, who, towards the beginning of the 18th century, conquered a district of Hindostan, giving it the name of Rohilkhand, which still survives as an alternative title of the Bareilly division of the United Provinces.
The chief languages spoken are vernaculars of Baluchistan, Pushtu, Panjabi, Urdu and Sindhi.