[in-doh-yoo r-uh-pee-uh n]
  1. a large, widespread family of languages, the surviving branches of which include Italic, Slavic, Baltic, Hellenic, Celtic, Germanic, and Indo-Iranian, spoken by about half the world's population: English, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek, Russian, Albanian, Lithuanian, Armenian, Persian, Hindi, and Hittite are all Indo-European languages.Compare family(def 14).
  2. Proto-Indo-European(def 1).
  3. a member of any of the peoples speaking an Indo-European language.
  1. of or belonging to Indo-European.
  2. speaking an Indo-European language: an Indo-European people.

Origin of Indo-European

First recorded in 1805–15
Related formsnon-In·do-Eu·ro·pe·an, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for indo-european


  1. denoting, belonging to, or relating to a family of languages that includes English and many other culturally and politically important languages of the world: a characteristic feature, esp of the older languages such as Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, is inflection showing gender, number, and case
  2. denoting or relating to the hypothetical parent language of this family, primitive Indo-European
  3. denoting, belonging to, or relating to any of the peoples speaking these languages
  1. the Indo-European family of languages
  2. Also called: primitive Indo-European, Proto-Indo-European the reconstructed hypothetical parent language of this family
  3. a member of the prehistoric people who spoke this language
  4. a descendant of this people or a native speaker of an Indo-European language
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for indo-european


1814, coined by physician, physicist and Egyptologist Thomas Young (1773-1829) and first used in an article in the "Quarterly Review," from Indo-, comb. form of Greek Indos "India" + European. "Common to India and Europe," specifically in reference to the group of related languages and to the race or races characterized by their use. The alternative Indo-Germanic (1835) was coined in German 1823 (indogermanisch), based on the two peoples at the extremes of the geographic area covered by the languages, before Celtic was realized also to be an Indo-European language. After this was proved, many German scholars switched to Indo-European as more accurate, but Indo-Germanic continued in use (popularized by the titles of major works) and the predominance of German scholarship in this field made it the popular term in England, too, through the 19c. See also Aryan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper