wal·​lah | \ ˈwä-lə How to pronounce wallah (audio) , in combination usually ˌwä-lə \

Definition of wallah

: a person who is associated with a particular work or who performs a specific duty or service usually used in combination the book wallah was an itinerant peddler— George Orwell

Did you know?

Wallah comes from the Hindi suffix -vālā, meaning "one in charge." Like its Hindi counterpart, "wallah" is commonly used in combination with other nouns. The first use of "wallah" appeared as "lootywallah" in a narrative penned by Officer Innes Munro describing his time deployed on the Coromandel Coast of India in the 1780s. "Looty," or "lootie," was a noun sometimes applied to a member of a band of marauders or robbers. In the narrative, Munro used the term to describe looting cavalrymen. In current writing, "wallah" is typically accompanied by words like "office" or "marketing."

Examples of wallah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Many young men like him, born into impoverished and landless homes in Western Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district, become pheri wallahs or travelling cloth salesman. Harsh Mander, Quartz India, 28 Apr. 2020 Such a system would be welcome in Brussels, where EU wallahs are pondering the fate of its flagship European Green Deal. The Economist, 5 Mar. 2020 In 2017 Dan Carden, a former union wallah, went up against Joe Anderson, Liverpool’s mayor, for the nomination. The Economist, 5 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wallah.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wallah

1782, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wallah

Hindi & Urdu -vālā one in charge, from Sanskrit pāla protector, from pālayati, pārayati he guards; akin to Sanskrit piparti he brings over, saves, Old English faran to go — more at fare

Learn More About wallah

Listen to Our Podcast About wallah

Dictionary Entries Near wallah



wall anchor

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wallah

Cite this Entry

“Wallah.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wallah. Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!