Origin of the word ‘Aryan’
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. Ultimately 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 English from 1851. The term fell into the hands of racists, and in German from 1845 it was specifically contrasted to Semitic (Lassen).