The term Aryans has been used to refer to several different Indo-European peoples or to Indo-Europeans in general.
The etymology has been described as "c.1600, as a term in classical history, from Latin Arianus, Ariana, from Greek Aria, Areia, names applied in classical times to the eastern part of ancient Persia and to its inhabitants. Ancient Persians used the name in reference to themselves (Old Persian ariya-), hence Iran. Ultimately from Sanskrit 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 German 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."
"Gradually replaced in comparative linguistics c.1900 by Indo-European, except when used to distinguish Indo-European languages of India from non-Indo-European ones...As an ethnic designation, however, it is properly limited to Indo-Iranians (most justly to the latter) and has fallen from general academic use".
National Socialist interpretations before and during the existence of National Socialist Germany of the term Aryan and the later term "German or related blood" have been argued to vary greatly regarding which peoples should be included.
- Aryan. Etymology Online. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Aryan
- Eric Ehrenreich (10 October 2007). The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Indiana University Press, 10–. ISBN 978-0-253-11687-1.