[air-ee-uhn, air-yuhn, ar-]
Ethnology. a member or descendant of the prehistoric people who spoke Indo-European.
(in Nazi doctrine) a non-Jewish caucasian, especially of Nordic stock.
(formerly) Indo-European.
(formerly) Indo-Iranian.
of or pertaining to an Aryan or the Aryans.
(formerly) Indo-European.
(formerly) Indo-Iranian.
Also, Arian.

1785–95; < Sanskrit ārya of high rank (adj.), aristocrat (noun) + -an

non-Aryan, noun, adjective
pre-Aryan, adjective
pseudo-Aryan, adjective, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
Aryan or Arian (ˈɛərɪən)
1.  (in Nazi ideology) a Caucasian of non-Jewish descent, esp of the Nordic type
2.  a member of any of the peoples supposedly descended from the Indo-Europeans, esp a speaker of an Iranian or Indic language in ancient times
3.  of, relating to, or characteristic of an Aryan or Aryans
adj, —n
4.  archaic Indo-European
[C19: from Sanskrit ārya of noble birth]
Arian or Arian
adj, —n
[C19: from Sanskrit ārya of noble birth]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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 ref. to themselves (O.Pers. ariya-), hence Iran. Ult. from
Skt. arya- "compatriot;" in later language "noble, of good family." Also the name Sanskrit-speaking invaders of India gave themselves in the ancient texts, from which early 19c. European philologists (Friedrich Schlegel, 1819, who linked the word with Ger. Ehre "honor") applied it to the ancient people we now call Indo-Europeans (suspecting that this is what they called themselves); this use is attested in Eng. from 1851. The term fell into the hands of racists, and in Ger. from 1845 it was specifically contrasted to Semitic (Lassen). Ger. philologist Max Müller (1823-1900) popularized the term in his writings on comparative linguistics, recommending it as the name (replacing Indo-European, Indo-Germanic, Caucasian, Japhetic) for the group of related, inflected languages connected with these peoples, mostly found in Europe but also including Sanskrit and Persian. Arian was used in this sense from 1839 (and is more philologically correct), but this spelling caused confusion with Arian, the term in ecclesiastical history. Gradually replaced in comparative linguistics c.1900 by Indo-European, except when used to distinguish I.E. languages of India from non-I.E. ones. Used in Nazi ideology to mean "member of a Caucasian Gentile race of Nordic type." As an ethnic designation, however, it is properly limited to Indo-Iranians (most justly to the latter) and has fallen from general academic use since the Nazi era.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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