a member of an Asian people with a complex material culture, sometimes thought to be of European origin, who lived in the Tarim Basin until overcome by the Uighurs around 800 ad
the language of this people, known from records in a N Indian script of the 7th and 8th centuries ad. It belongs to the Indo-European family, is regarded as forming an independent branch, and shows closer affinities with the W or European group than with the E or Indo-Iranian group. The language is recorded in two dialects, known as Tocharian A and Tocharian B
C20: ultimately from Greek Tokharoi, name of uncertain origin
in ref. to an extinct people and I.E. language of Chinese Turkestan, 1927, from Fr. tocharien, from Gk. Tokharoi (Strabo), name of an Asiatic people who lived in the Oxus valley in ancient times. Earlier Tocharish (1910), from Ger. tocharisch. The identification of this culture with the people named by Strabo was suggested in 1907 by F.W.K. Müller and "is obviously erroneous" (Klein).