Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati (Ganpati) and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name.
The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana (gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master.
The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha’s father.
The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name “Lord of the Gaņas” to mean “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord of created categories”, such as the elements.
Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning “group”, and pati, meaning “ruler” or “lord”. Though the earliest mention of the word Ganapati is found in hymn 2.23.1 of the 2nd-millennium BCE Rigveda, it is however uncertain that the Vedic term referred specifically to Ganesha.
The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha: Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana (gajānana); having the face of an elephant.
Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak.
The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hinduism as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).
A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai (Tamil: பிள்ளை) or Pillaiyar (பிள்ளையார்). A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a “child” while pillaiyar means a “noble child”.
He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify “tooth or tusk”, also “elephant tooth or tusk”.
Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant “the young of the elephant”, because the Pali word pillaka means “a young elephant”.
In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikanet.
The earliest images and mention of Ganesha names as a major deity in present-day Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam date from the 7th- and 8th-centuries, and these mirror Indian examples of the 5th century or earlier.
In Sri Lankan Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo, and revered along with Buddha, Vishnu, Skanda and others.