ancient kingdom in North Africa, later a Roman province roughly corresponding to modern Algeria, Latin, named for its inhabitants, the Numidians, whose name is related to nomad (n.). Related: Numidian.

Betwix Egipte and þe land þat es called Numid er xii day iourneez in desertes. Þe folk þat wones in þat cuntree er called Numidianes, and þai are cristned. Bot þai er blakk of colour. [John Mandeville's "Travels," c. 1425]
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surname, early 13c., probably an agent noun from walk (v.) in the sense "to full cloth." preserves the cloth-fulling sense (walker with this meaning is attested from c. 1300). "Walker" or "Hookey Walker" was a common slang retort of incredulity in early and mid-19c. London, for which "Various problematic explanations have been offered" [Century Dictionary].

"Is it?" said Scrooge. "Go and buy it."
"Walk-ER!" exclaimed the boy.
"No, no," said Scrooge. "I am in earnest" (etc.)
[Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"]
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country name, from Persian Iran, from Middle Persian Ērān "(land) of the Iranians," genitive plural of ēr- "an Iranian," from Old Iranian *arya- (Old Persian ariya-, Avestan airya-) "Iranian", from Indo-Iranian *arya- or *ārya-, a self-designation, perhaps meaning "compatriot" (see Aryan).

In English it began to be used 1760s, by orientalists and linguists (Alexander Dow, William Jones), in historical contexts, and usually with a footnote identifying it with modern Persia; as recently as 1903 "Century Dictionary" defined it as "the ancient name of the region lying between Kurdistan and India." In 1935 the government of Reza Shah Pahlavi requested governments with which it had diplomatic relations to call his country Iran, after the indigenous name, rather than the Greek-derived Persia.
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