Words related to aryan


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.

Caucasian (adj.)

1807, of or pertaining to the Caucasus Mountains (q.v.), with -ian. Applied to the "white" race 1795 (in Latin) by German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), who in his pioneering treatise on anthropology distinguished mankind into five races: Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malay, (Native) American, and Caucasian. In the last group he included nearly all Europeans (except Lapps and Finns), Armenians, Persians, and Hindus, as well as Arabs and Jews. His attempt at division was based on physical similarities in skulls.

Blumenbach had a solitary Georgian skull; and that skull was the finest in his collection: that of a Greek being the next. Hence it was taken as the type of the skull of the more organised divisions of our species. More than this, it gave its name to the type, and introduced the term Caucasian. Never has a single head done more harm to science than was done in the way of posthumous mischief by the head of this well-shaped female from Georgia. [Robert Gordon Latham, M.D., "The Natural History of the Varieties of Man," London, 1850]

The word has long since been abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. Compare Aryan.

Japhetic (adj.)

in reference to the presumed ancestral language of ancient Greek, Latin, and most of the modern European ones, 1730, from Biblical Japheth, a son of Noah, from whom the European peoples once were popularly supposed to have descended (as Middle Eastern Semitic from Shem; African Hamitic from Ham). Compare Aryan. Related: Japhetian (1752).

Arian (adj.)

late 14c., Arrian, "adhering to the doctrines of Arius," from Late Latin Arianus, "pertaining to the doctrines of Arius," priest in Alexandria early 4c., who posed the question of Christ's nature in terms which appeared to debase the Savior's relation to God (denial of consubstantiation). Besides taking an abstract view of Christ's nature, he reaffirmed man's capacity for perfection. The doctrines were condemned at Nice, 325, but the dissension was widespread and split the Church for about a century during the crucial time of barbarian conversions. The name is Greek, literally "warlike, of Ares."


1814, coined by English polymath Thomas Young (1773-1829) and first used in an article in the "Quarterly Review," from Indo- + European. "Common to India and Europe," specifically in reference to the group of related languages and to the race or races characterized by their use. William Dwight Whitney ("The Life and Growth of Language," 1875) credits its widespread use to Franz Bopp. 

The alternative Indo-Germanic (1835) was coined in German in 1823 (indogermanisch), based on the two peoples then thought to be at the extremes of the geographic area covered by the languages, but this was before Celtic was realized also to be an Indo-European language. After this was proved, many German scholars switched to Indo-European as more accurate, but Indo-Germanic continued in use (popularized by the titles of major works) and the predominance of German scholarship in this field made it the popular term in England, too, through the 19c. See also Aryan and Japhetic.

Indo-Aryan (1850) seems to have been used only of the Aryans of India. Indo-European also was used in reference to trade between Europe and India or European colonial enterprises in India (1813).

Aryanism (n.)

1858, "characteristic Aryan principles," from Aryan + -ism. As a belief in cultural or racial superiority of Aryans, from 1905.

Aryanize (v.)

"to render 'Aryan,'" in the Nazi sense, 1935, from Aryan + -ize. Related: Aryanized; Aryanizing.