The essay demonstrates the longevity and pervasiveness of Indic and Indic-derived etymological analyses (nirvacana) across literary traditions, in Sanskrit, Pāli, and Chinese. To exemplify different indigenous approaches to etymology, the essay explores emic analyses of the word araṇya ‘wilderness’. It traces the analyses found in Chāndogya Upaniṣad (8.5) and in the works of the etymologists (Nirukta) and grammarians (vyākaraṇa; uṇādisūtra). It also considers Paramārtha’s nirvacana-inspired analysis of Chinese alianruo 阿練若 (araṇya), and identifies a similar analysis in Aggavaṃsa’s Saddanīti. The essay shows etymological analyses’ sophistication and variety of purposes.