Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This Proto-Indo-Iranian entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



There have been many attempts to qualify the ar- verbal root of Old Iranian *arya- (with short-a, found in Old Persian as ariya-, and Avestan as airiia-, etc), and Old Indic ārya- (with long-a, vriddhi-formed Sanskrit ā́rya-). The most influential (and in the case of Pictet, notorious) of these include:

  • Before 1957 (these assume that various Sanskrit (near-)homonyms derive from a single historical unity):
    • Franz Bopp (1830): ar- "to go, to move", read as "one who roams" (like a nomad)
    • Adolphe Pictet (1858): ar- "to plough", read as "cultivator of the land"
    • Hermann Güntert (1924): ar- "to fit", read as "allied, friendly"
    • Paul Thieme (1938): ar- "to give, allot, share", read as "hospitable, friendly"
  • 1957 and later (these differentiate between the Sanskrit gentilic ā́rya- and the (near-)homonyms árya-, aryá-, aryà-, ā́rīḥa-, etc.):
    • Emmanuel Laroche (1957): ara- "to fit", read as "fitting, proper"
    • Georges Dumézil (1958): ar- "to share", read as a uniting property of "belonging to the Aryan world" ("appartenant au monde aryen")
    • Harold Walter Bailey (1959): ar- "to beget", read as "born, nurturing"
    • Émil Benveniste (1969): ar- "to fit", read as "companionable"

For a review of these and many other considerations, see Szemerényi 1977, pp. 103–147.[1]

A derivation from Proto-Indo-European cannot be obtained with certainty either. This is because

  • the ā/a in ārya- have a morphological value unique to Indo-Iranian languages. Indo-European ā, ē, ō merge as Indo-Iranian ā (a similar merger also occurs for short vowels).
  • the rules governing ablauts are poorly understood and it is not certain whether PIE had an a-vowel at all; in principle ārya- could simply reflect zero-grade n̥ryo-.
  • the a priori assumption that ārya- is Indo-European is not assured.
    A comparable word does not exist in any other Indo-European language (i.e. other than the Indo-Iranian ones).
    (18th/19th-century assumptions of a relationship to Irish Éire, German Ehre, etc. have long since been dismissed.)
    It is possible that the autonym was originally a name given to the Indo-Iranians by another (non-Indo-European) people.
  • the relationship between various Sanskrit (near-)homonyms has not been established. In addition to the vriddhi-formed ā́rya- that corresponds to Old Iranian ariya/airiia etc., Sanskrit also has árya-, aryá-, aryà-, ā́rīḥa-, etc. Prior to the 1950s, these were all assumed to be variants of the same word (i.e. assumed to have a historical unity), but since 1957 (Laroche), this approach is no longer considered tenable. (The relationship of these terms with Sanskrit ari- "attached to, faithful, trustworthy; faithful, devoted, pious man, kinsman" is also not clear, but it has frequently been suspected as a derivational base.)

For a review of the etymological problems involved, see Szemerényi 1977, pp. 103–147;[1] Mayrhofer 1956, p. 49, 52, 79.[2] and Siegert 1941/1942, pp. 73-99.[3] Watkins/IE Roots (2000) treats the Indo-Iranian autonym as an isolate and derives it tentatively from "perhaps ... ar- [to fit]" (cf. *h₂er-, "to fit, put together"), giving "allied compatriot" or the like. This reading derives ultimately from an analysis by H. Güntert (1924, reiterated by Laroche and in numerous other later etymologies). Etymologies that consider the Indo-Iranian term to be a loanword include Oswald Szemerényi suggestion[1][4] that *arya- is a loanword from an Ugaritic word meaning "kinsmen", from Proto-Afro-Asiatic *ħər (free, noble), but this hypothesis has today generally been discarded (EIEC: "hardly compelling").

Etymologies that insist on a PIE root for Indo-Iranian *arya, and also read it as a substantive rather than a conjugation of the verbal root ar(y)-, include Mallory and Adams (EIEC, 1997) who derive *arya from *h₄erós ~ *h₄eri̯os (member of one's own (ethnic) group, peer, freeman; (Indo-Iranian) Aryan),[5][6] and adduce comparanda from Anatolian and Celtic, partly reiterating Laroche's analysis. Sergei Starostin continued the long-abandoned identifications with Irish Éire (despite the general consensus that Éire has a completely different origin) and Hittite arawa-, and continued to reconstruct a derivation from Proto-Indo-European *ar(y)- (master).[7]


*áryas m

  1. autonymic (self-identifying) ethnonym of the respective Indo-Iranian peoples, i.e. the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians.


masculine a-stem
singular dual plural
nominative *áryas *áryā *áryā, -ās(as)
vocative *árya *áryā *áryā, -ās(as)
accusative *áryam *áryā *áryāns
instrumental *áryā *áryaybʰyaH, -ābʰyām *áryāyš
ablative *áryāt *áryaybʰyaH, -ābʰyām *áryaybʰyas
dative *áryāy *áryaybʰyaH, -ābʰyām *áryaybʰyas
genitive *áryasya *áryayās *áryāna(H)m
locative *áryay *áryayaw *áryayšu

Derived terms[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Szemerényi, Oswald (1977). Studies in the Kinship Terminology of the Indo-European languages, Acta Iranica III.16. Leiden: Brill.
  2. ^ Mayrhofer, Manfred (1956), Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen, vol. I. Heidelberg: Winter.
  3. ^ Siegert, Hans (1941/1942). "Zur Geschichte der Begriffe 'Arier' und 'Arisch'". Wörter und Sachen (New Series 4): 84–99.
  4. ^ Mallory, James Patrick (1989) In Search of the Indo-Europeans, Thames and Hudson, →ISBN, p. 276
  5. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q., editors (1997) Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture, London, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, page 213
  6. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, D. Q. (2006) The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world, Oxford University Press, page 266
  7. ^ Starostin, Indo-European etymology: *ar(y)-
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Abajev, V. I. (1958), “allon”, in Istoriko-etimologičeskij slovarʹ osetinskovo jazyka [Historical-Etymological Dictionary of the Ossetian Language] (in Russian), volume I, Moscow, Leningrad: USSR Academy of Sciences, pages 47–48
  9. ^ Kim, Ronald (2003). "On the historical phonology of Ossetic: the origin of the oblique case suffix." In: The Journal of the American Oriental Society.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Thordarson, Fridrik (2009), Ossetic Grammatical Studies (Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik, ed. Bert G. Fragner and Velizar Sadovski 48), Vienna.