c. 1600 (adj.); 1630s (n.), from French Européen, from Latin Europaeus, from Greek Europaios "European," from Europe (see Europe).
Entries linking to european
from Latin Europa "Europe," from Greek Europe, which is of uncertain origin; as a geographic name first recorded in the Homeric hymn to Apollo (522 B.C.E. or earlier):
"Telphusa, here I am minded to make a glorious temple, an oracle for men, and hither they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both those who live in rich Peloponnesus and those of Europe and all the wave-washed isles, coming to seek oracles."
Often explained as "broad face," from eurys "wide" (see eury-) + ops "face," literally "eye" (from PIE root *okw- "to see"). But also traditionally linked with Europa, Phoenician princess in Greek mythology. Klein (citing Heinrich Lewy) suggests a possible Semitic origin in Akkad. erebu "to go down, set" (in reference to the sun) which would parallel occident. Another suggestion along those lines is Phoenician 'ereb "evening," hence "west."
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).
updated on September 19, 2014
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