Aryan

Ar·y·an (âr’ē-ən, ăr’-)
n.
1. Indo-Iranian.
2. A member of the people who spoke the parent language of the Indo-European languages. No longer in technical use.
3. A member of any people speaking an Indo-European language. No longer in technical use.
4. In Nazism and neo-Nazism, a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially one of Nordic type, supposed to be part of a master race.
[From Sanskrit ārya-, compatriot, ethnic self-designation of the Indo-Iranians of ancient India.]
Ar’y·an adj.
Word History: When most English speakers hear the word Aryan, they probably think of it as referring primarily to northern Europeans in the context of the racist theories of European physical and mental superiority espoused by the Nazis. Originally, however, the word referred to the early Indo-Iranians—the Indo-European peoples who inhabited parts of what are now Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Their tribal self-designation was a word reconstructed as *arya- or *ārya-. The first of these is the form found in Iranian, as ultimately in the name of Iran itself (from Middle Persian Ērān [šahr], "[Land] of the Iranians," from the genitive plural of Ēr, "Iranian"). The variant *ārya- is found unchanged in Sanskrit, where it referred to the upper classes of ancient Indian society. These words became known to European scholars in the 18th century. In the 1830s, Friedrich Schlegel, a German scholar who was an important early Indo-Europeanist, came up with a theory that linked the Indo-Iranian words with the German word Ehre, "honor," and older Germanic names containing the element ario-, such as the Swiss warrior Ariovistus, who was written about by Julius Caesar. Schlegel theorized that far from being just a designation of the Indo-Iranians, the word *arya- had in fact been what the Indo-Europeans called themselves, meaning something like "the honorable people." This theory, however, has since been called into question. Nevertheless, Aryan came to be synonymous with Indo-European in the writings of many Indo-Europeanists, and in this sense the term entered the general scholarly consciousness of the day. Not much later, it was proposed that the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans had been in northern Europe. From this theory, it was but a small leap to think of the Aryans as having had a northern European physiotype. While these theories were being developed, certain anti-Semitic German scholars singled out the Jews as the main non-Aryan people in Germany because of their Semitic roots. A distinction thus arose in these scholars' minds between Jews and the "true Aryan" Germans, a distinction that later furnished fodder for the racial theories of the Nazis.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aryan — Ar yan ([aum]r yan or [a^]r [i^]*an), a. Of or pertaining to the people called Aryans; Indo European; Indo Germanic; as, the Aryan stock, the Aryan languages. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aryan — ► NOUN 1) a member of a people speaking an Indo European language who spread into northern India in the 2nd millennium BC. 2) the language of this people. 3) (in Nazi ideology) a person of Caucasian race not of Jewish descent. ► ADJECTIVE ▪… …   English terms dictionary

  • Aryan — [ar′ē ən, er′ē ən] adj. [< Sans āzya , noble (used as tribal name to distinguish from indigenous races) > Avestan airya nam, IRAN1; ? akin to Gr aristos, best or Hittite arawa , free] 1. Obs. designating or of the Indo European language… …   English World dictionary

  • Aryan — Ar yan ([aum]r yan or [a^]r [i^]*an), n. [Skr. [=a]rya excellent, honorable; akin to the name of the country Iran, and perh. to Erin, Ireland, and the early name of this people, at least in Asia.] 1. One of a primitive people supposed to have… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Aryan — c.1600, as a term in classical history, from L. Arianus, Ariana, from Gk. Aria, Areia, names applied in classical times to the eastern part of ancient Persia and to its inhabitants. Ancient Persians used the name in reference to themselves… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Aryan — This article is about the English language loanword. For other uses, see Aryan (disambiguation). Aryan /ˈɛərjən/ is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya ( Noble )[1][2][ …   Wikipedia

  • Aryan — /air ee euhn, air yeuhn, ar /, n. 1. Ethnol. a member or descendant of the prehistoric people who spoke Indo European. 2. (in Nazi doctrine) a non Jewish Caucasian, esp. of Nordic stock. 3. (formerly) Indo European. 4. (formerly) Indo Iranian.… …   Universalium

  • Aryan — 1. noun /ˈɛɹ.i.ən/ a) A member of an (alleged) master race comprised of non Jewish Caucasians, especially those of Nordic or Germanic descent. This short sketch of the changes that take place among those races that are only the depositories of a… …   Wiktionary

  • Aryan — (Arya)    In the VEDAS, the earliest Indian texts, the SAN SKRIT word Arya had the sense of noble or worthy person. It was used by the tribes or peoples who recited the Vedas to distinguish themselves from other peoples. Sometimes, in early… …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • Aryan — Ar•y•an [[t]ˈɛər i ən, yən, ˈær , ˈɑr yən[/t]] n. 1) a) peo a speaker of the languages ancestral to the Indo Aryan or the Indo Iranian languages b) peo (formerly) a speaker of Proto Indo European; an Indo European 2) peo (formerly) a) Indo Aryan… …   From formal English to slang

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