Aryan is an English word derived from the Sanskrit ārya meaning "noble" or "distinguished". In present-day academia the term "Indo-Iranian" and "Indo-European" is preferred, term "Aryan" being now mostly limited to its appearance in the term "Indo-Aryan" to represent speakers of North, West and Central Indian languages.
H. P. Blavatsky describes it as follows:
Ârya (Sk.) Lit., “the holy”; originally the title of Rishis, those who had mastered the “Âryasatyâni” (q.v.) and entered the Âryanimârga path to Nirvâna or Moksha, the great “four-fold” path. But now the name has become the epithet of a race, and our Orientalists, depriving the Hindu Brahmans of their birth-right, have made Aryans of all Europeans.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 32.