or To·khar·i·an

[toh-kair-ee-uh n, -kahr-]
  1. a member of a central Asian people of high culture, who were assimilated with other peoples about the 11th century a.d.
  2. the language of the Tocharians, an extinct Indo-European language, having an eastern dialect (Tocharian A) and a western dialect (Tocharian B), records of which date from a.d. c600–c1000.
  1. of or relating to the Tocharians or their language.

Origin of Tocharian

1925–30; < Greek Tóchar(oi) a Central Asian people (thought to have been the language's speakers when its remains were first discovered) + -ian Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for tocharian



  1. a member of an Asian people with a complex material culture, sometimes thought to be of European origin, who lived in the Tarim Basin until overcome by the Uighurs around 800 ad
  2. the language of this people, known from records in a N Indian script of the 7th and 8th centuries ad . It belongs to the Indo-European family, is regarded as forming an independent branch, and shows closer affinities with the W or European group than with the E or Indo-Iranian group. The language is recorded in two dialects, known as Tocharian A and Tocharian B

Word Origin for Tocharian

C20: ultimately from Greek Tokharoi, name of uncertain origin
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 tocharian


in reference to an extinct people and Indo-European language of Chinese Turkestan, 1927, from French tocharien, from Greek Tokharoi (Strabo), name of an Asiatic people who lived in the Oxus valley in ancient times. Earlier Tocharish (1910), from German tocharisch. The identification of this culture with the people named by Strabo was suggested in 1907 by F.W.K. Müller and "is obviously erroneous" (Klein).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper