I surmised that Aryan would be a suitable word for
entry into the Dictionary of Racial Language because of its racial
implications stemming from World War II and Nazism. What I discovered
through my research is that the origin of Aryan did not begin with Hitler,
Nazism or even relate to the Nordics, as I originally thought. Instead,
what I discovered is that Aryan, as its’ definition will demonstrate, is
the antithesis of Hitler’s so called perfect race.
"It is one of the ironies of history
that Aryan, a word nowadays referring to the blond-haired,
blue-eyed physical ideal of Nazi Germany, originally referred to a people
who looked vastly different. Its history starts with the ancient
Indo-Iranians, Indo-European peoples who inhabited parts of what are now
Iran, Afghanistan, and India" (American Heritage Dictionary of the English
From the American Heritage Dictionary—Fourth
Aryan—A member of the people who spoke
the parent language of the Indo-European languages.
Of course this definition is very broad
and not well described but the Oxford English Dictionary gives a much more
in-depth definition along with a very useful etymology.
There are various ways of spelling Aryan
from the numerous languages that encompass Aryan. Of those spellings the
most repetitive were Arian (plural—Arianes or Aryas.)
1601—Holland’s Pliny—The region of the Arianes, all
scorched and senged with the parching heate of the Sunne. (Given the
latitude of the region described it would be physically impossible for
this region to be Scandinavian/Nordic.)
1794—Sir W. Jones’ Ordin—All those tribes of men, who
sprang from the mouth, the arm, the thigh and the foot of Brahma
(Hinduism, the creator God—chief member if the triad also including Vishnu
and Shiva) but who became outcasts by having neglected their duties are
called Dasyus, or plunderers, whether they speak the
language of the Mlechch’has or that of the
1839—Based on historical evidence, ancient Indian and Iranian
members of families called themselves Aryan. Applied to the family of
languages, which include Sanskrit (ancient Indic language that is the
language of Hinduism and the classical language of India), Zend, Persian,
Greek, Latin, Celtic, Teutonic and Slavonic. Used prominently to
distinguish Aryan languages from non-Aryan languages of
1851—In an idea current in the 19th century of an
Aryan race corresponding to a definite Aryan language was taken up by
nationalistic historical and romantic writers. Aryan was given significant
importance by de Gobineau who linked it with the theory of the essential
inferiority of certain races.
1878—That all the other Aryan vernaculars are variants of Hindi,
caused by the influence of non-Aryan communities. Modern Languages E.
Indies—The Aryans advanced down the basins of the Indus (river of
South Central Asia flowing through North India and Pakistan to the Arabian
Sea. Its valley was the site of a civilization from 2500-1500 B.C.) and
the Ganges (river of North India and Bangladesh flowing to the Bay of
1911—H.S. Chamberlain’s Foundations 19th
Century—Anthropologists, ethnographers and even historians,
theologians, philologists and legal authorities find the idea "Aryan" more
and more unavoidable…though it were proved that there never was an Aryan
race in the past, yet we desire in the future that there may be
1916—Madison Grant’s Passing of a Great Race—The name
‘Aryan race’ must also be frankly discarded as a term of racial
1939—J.S. Huxley’s ‘Race’ in Europe—Biologically it is
almost against the law to speak of a "Jewish race" as of an "Aryan
1932—In Nazism and neo-Nazism, a non-Jewish Caucasian,
especially one of Nordic type, supposed to be part of a master race.
Reintroduced under the Nazi regime (1933-1945) applied to inhabitants of
Germany of non-Jewish extraction.
1933—W. Norman Brown’s The Swastika—A study of the nazi
claims of its Aryan Origin. Hitler’s Mein Kampf—describes the exact
opposite of Aryan as a Jew.
1940—War Illustrator—The Founder of the Christian faith
was of Aryan not Jewish descent.
With this background information and usage of the word
Aryan, seen as early as 1601, it is difficult to see the understanding of
the word Aryan in the propaganda spewed by Hitler and his Nazi party.
Rather, it is quite humorous that such a so-called brilliant orator could
not recognize such a critical part of the definition of the very word he
used to describe a perfect race. Although Aryan was regionalized, by its
first definition, Hitler decidedly must have settled upon the 1851
definition, which equates Aryan with the inferiority of certain
How Hitler redefined Aryan to mean a race consisting
of the Nordic people as perfect, can never be known, but the implications
of the word Aryan include the irony that its meaning has been distorted
and an example of how language can be twisted to mean something for which
it was not intended.