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Turko-Tatar was a common designation associated with academic Turkology in the 19th century. The term "Turko-Tatar" was used in scholarly works such as the Allgemeine Grammatik der Turko-tatarischen Sprachen by the Azeri scholar A. Kazem-bek (Kasan, 1839), or L.Z. Budagov’s Sravnitel’nïy slovar turetsko-tatarskix narechiy, i-ii (St. Petersburg, 1869-1871). By the early 20th century, many Turkic intellectuals were commonly using the term "Turko-Tatar" when referring to the entire Turkic world. This term was used in scholarship in this period by native Turkic scholars such as Zeki Velidi Togan in his Türk wä Tatar tarîxı (Qazan, 1912). "Turcotatar" is a former Library of Congress subject heading.

This term is still in common use among many Turkic peoples today. This term is inclusive of all the Turkic-speaking peoples without giving preference to one specific group in any language, since many languages do not distinguish between "Turkic" and "Turkish". This term is not geographically specific, so it does not give preference to any one area inhabited by Turkic-speaking peoples today or in the past. This term does not emphasize one modern state tradition over another. This term is sometimes used to designate Muslim Turkic population of the Russian Empire, except the Central Asian, i.e. generally Bashkirs, Kazakhs.