Aryan race

The 4th edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon (Leipzig, 1885–1890) shows the Caucasian race (in various shades of grayish blue-green) as comprising Aryans, Semites, and Hamites. Aryans are further subdivided into European Aryans and Indo-Aryans (the term "Indo-Aryans" was then used to describe those now called Indo-Iranians).

The Aryan race is a historical race concept which emerged in the period of the late 19th century and mid-20th century to describe people of Indo-European heritage as a racial grouping.[1]

The concept derives from the notion that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or subrace of the Caucasian race.[2][3]


The term Aryan has generally been used to describe the Proto-Indo-Iranian language root *arya which was the ethnonym the Indo-Iranians adopted to describe Aryans. Its cognate in Sanskrit is the word ārya (Devanāgarī: आर्य), in origin an ethnic self-designation, in Classical Sanskrit meaning "honourable, respectable, noble".[4][5] The Old Persian cognate ariya- (Old Persian cuneiform: 𐎠𐎼𐎡𐎹) is the ancestor of the modern name of Iran and ethnonym for the Iranian people.[6]

The term Indo-Aryan is still commonly used to describe the Indic half of the Indo-Iranian languages, i.e., the family that includes Sanskrit and modern languages such as Hindi-Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Romani, Kashmiri, Sinhalese and Marathi.[7]