Aryan is a term meaning noble which was used as a self-designation by Indo-Iranian people. The closely related Iranian people also used the term as a label for themselves in the Avesta scriptures. It was believed in the 19th century that it was also a used by all Proto-Indo-Europeans. Scholars point out that, even in ancient times, the idea of being an Aryan was religious, cultural and linguistic, through Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Gobineaus ideas later influenced the Nazi racial ideology, which also saw Aryan peoples as innately superior to other putative racial groups. The English word Aryan is borrowed from the Sanskrit word ārya, आर्य and it was reintroduced into English with the new spelling by William Jones in the 18th century. Philologist J. P. Mallory argues that As an ethnic designation, the word is most properly limited to the Indo-Iranians, in early Vedic literature, the term Āryāvarta was the name given to northern India, where the Indo-Aryan culture was based. The Manusmṛti gives the name Āryāvarta to the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern to the Western Sea, initially the term was used as a national name to designate those who worshipped the Vedic deities and followed Vedic culture. The Sanskrit term comes from proto-Indo-Iranian *arya- or *aryo-, the used by the Indo-Iranians to designate themselves. The Zend airya venerable and Old Persian ariya are also derivates of *aryo-, in Iranian languages, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like Alans and Iron. Similarly, the name of Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryans, the Proto-Indo-Iranian term is hypothesized to have proto-Indo-European origins, while according to Szemerényi it is probably a Near-Eastern loanword from the Ugaritic ary, kinsmen. It has been postulated the Proto-Indo-European root word is *haerós with the members of ones own group, peer. The word *haerós itself is believed to have come from the root *haer meaning put together, the original meaning in Proto-Indo-European had a clear emphasis on the in-group status as distinguished from that of outsiders, particularly those captured and incoporated into the group as slaves. While in Anatolia, the word has come to emphasize personal relationship. A review of other ideas, and the various problems with each is given by Oswald Szemerényi. Proto-Indo-Europeans, during the 19th century, it was proposed that Aryan was also the self-designation of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, Aryan language family, the Indo-Aryan languages, Iranian languages and Nuristani languages, Indo-Aryan languages specifically, also called Indic. The term Aryan is used by Indian nationalists and Iranian nationalists to refer themselves as Aryan in contrast to the Indo-Aryan migration theory, during the 19th century it was proposed that Aryan was also the self-designation of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Based on speculations that the Proto-Indo-European homeland was located in northern Europe, a 19th-century hypothesis which is now abandoned and it has been used in Nazi racial theory to describe persons corresponding to the Nordic physical ideal of Nazi Germany. In Sanskrit and related Indic languages, ārya means one who does noble deeds, Āryāvarta abode of the āryas is a common name for North India in Sanskrit literature
Image: Darius I the Great's inscription
Madison Grant's vision of the distribution of "Nordics" (red), "Alpines" (green) and "Mediterraneans" (yellow).