Abertzale in the Basque language means roughly, "patriot", and is used to mean "Basque nationalist". It comes from the fusion of "aberri(a)" ("fatherland", a neologism created by Sabino Arana) with the suffix "-(t)zale" (someone who loves, is a friend of, has affection towards, or dedicates him- or herself to something).

Although the term is etymologically parallel to "patriot", its use in Basque and (even more so) in Spanish refers specifically to Basque nationalism. The use of the term by members and sympathizers of de Herri Batasuna (associated with the terrorist group ETA), and the fact that the followers of the rival Basque Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Vasco, PNV) call themselves jeltzales more than abertzales, has brought about a situation where the word is strongly associated with that particular leftist current of Basque nationalism.

The Real Academia Española, the body that oversees Spain's official dictionary of the Spanish language, has officially recognized the adapted word "aberzale" (rather than "abertzale") as a Spanish-language word, with this narrower meaning; however, even in Spanish "abertzale" retains greater currency.

Several organizations past and present have used this word in their official Basque-language names:

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