One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In Sri Lanka: an older brother. Hence more generally: any older male relative or acquaintance. Frequently as a form of address.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in Leonard Woolf (1880–1969), author and publisher. From Sinhala ayiyā older brother, also used as form of address for an older male relative more generally from Tamil aiyan, ayyā father, also used to modify the word for ‘brother’ to convey the sense ‘elder’, and as a respectful form of address to male superiors more generally, ultimately from Sanskrit ārya.
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