Definition 2022




Proper noun

Germany (countable and uncountable, plural Germanies or Germanys)

  1. (geography) The Central European state formed by West Germany's 1990 absorption of East Germany, with its capital in Berlin.
    • 2014 September 25, Michael Heise, "The Myth of the Stupid German Investor" in the Wall Street Journal:
      Germans save a lot, produce plenty and spend little. The result is a massive external surplus. Last year, Germany’s current account surplus stood at almost 200 billion ($260 billion), the world's largest.
    • 2014 July 14, Sam Bordenjuly, "Germans End Long Wait: 24 Years and a Bit Extra" in The New York Times:
      The win made Germany the first European team to prevail in a World Cup in the Americas and gave the Germans, who have made it to the knockout stage in 16 consecutive World Cups, their first trophy since 1990.
  2. (geography, historical) The Central European state formed by Prussia in 1871 or its successor states, with their capitals in Berlin.
    • 1996, Paul Bookbinder, Weimar Germany: the republic of the reasonable (ISBN 0719042879), page 90:
      Severing's belief that trade union workers were the most progressive and democratic element in Germany holds up well under investigation.
  3. (geography, historical) A nominal medieval kingdom in Central Europe forming a region of the Carolingian and Holy Roman empires, with various capitals; by extension, the Holy Roman Empire itself, the empire of the Austrian Habsburgs.
    • 17th c., A Military History of Germany; and of England. From the Year 1631 to the Year 1648. Being the Memoirs of an English Gentleman, who served in the army of Gustavus Adolphus; and afterwards in the Royal Army of King Charles I (1759), page 33:
      There had been a long bloody war in the empire of Germany for twelve years, between the Emperor, the Duke of Bavaria, the King of Spain, and the Popiſh Princes and Electors, on the one side; and the Proteſtant Princes on the other; and both ſides having been exhauſted by the war, and even the Catholicks themſelves beginning to diſlike the growing power of the houſe of Auſtria, it was thought that all parties were willing to make peace.
    • 1790, Thomas B. Clarke, A Statistical View of Germany, in respect to the Imperial and Territorial Constitutions, Forms of Government, Legislation, Administration of Justice, and Ecclesiastical State, page 13:
      When the race of Charlemagne ceaſed to govern in Germany, the princes and ſtates aſſociated to continue the empire; and that its majeſty might be viſible, and its laws enforced, they agreed to chooſe an emperor. From this emperor, all electors and princes, except thoſe before 1582, receive inveſtiture of their dominions; counts and free cities from the Aulic council. But this inveſtiture is no more than a ſign of ſubmiſſion to the majeſty of the empire, which is depoſited in the emperor. For as the conſtituted members of the empire are dependent on that collective union from which they derive protection, they therefore ſhew this dependence on the emperor, becauſe he repreſents the majeſty of that union, or of the empire; but in all other reſpects they are independent and free.
  4. (geography, chiefly historical) The nation of the German people, regardless of their political unification (see usage note).
    • 1775, Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and United Provinces, volume II, page 3:
      I had frequently been told, that the Bohemians were the moſt muſical people of Germany, or, perhaps, of all Europe...
    • 1776, Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume I, page 218:
      Ancient Germany, excluding from its independent limits the province weſtward of the Rhine, which had ſubmitted to the Roman yoke, extended itſelf over a third part of Europe. Almoſt the whole of modern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Livonia, Pruſſia, and the greater part of Poland, were peopled by the various tribes of one great nation, whoſe complexion, manners, and language, denoted a common origin and preſerved a ſtriking reſemblance.
    • 1797, "Mentz" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 3rd ed.:
      There are few cities in Germany beſides Vienna which contain ſo rich and numerous a nobility as this does: there are fome houſes here which have eſtates of 100,000 guilders, or 10,000l. a-year.
  5. (countable, geography, historical) West or East Germany or any other German state (see usage note); (in the plural) both, several, or all of these states, taken together.
    • 1872, History of English Literature, John Fiske's abridgment of H. van Laun's translation of Hippolyte Taine's Histoire de la littérature anglaise (1864), page 26:
      While the Germans of Gaul, Italy, and Spain became Romans, the Saxons retained their language, their genius, and manners, and created in Britain a Germany outside of Germany.
    • 2007, William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University, ISBN 0226109224, page 84:
      The differences between England and the Germanies sprang from the absence or presence of ministerial interventions.
    • 2010, Ilan Stavans, Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years, ISBN 0312240333:
      In a Renault 14, they drove from one Germany to the other...
    • 2010 September 29, Klaus Wiegrefe, "Germany's Unlikely Diplomatic Triumph" in Spiegel Online:
      It is the fall of 1989, and two time zones farther to the west, thousands of people march through downtown Leipzig every Monday, while more than 6,000 East German citizens are camped out in the embassies of West Germany in Prague and Warsaw, hoping to be allowed to emigrate. The images have circled the globe, and it is clear to leaders Thatcher and Gorbachev that the two Germanys are on the verge of radical change.

Usage notes

In its present use, "Germany" almost always refers to the Federal Republic of Germany.[2] Historically, the extent of "Germany" was a contentious issue known in the 19th century as "The German Question". The political area considered "Germany" might include or exclude areas such as Prussia, Austria, Bohemia, or Switzerland depending on the speaker and context. The area more often described an ethnic region than a polity into the 16th century. In Old English, it was even occasionally used to refer to areas of England held by the Saxons, Angles, etc.[2] The medieval "Kingdom of Germany" is an English anachronism translating the Latin rex Teutonicorum ("king of the Teutons"), which was initially used as a derogatory exonym before being adopted as a formal title of the Holy Roman Emperors in the early Modern period. The title adopted by the medieval Central European rulers themselves was rex Romanorum ("king of the Romans").


Derived terms

Related terms


See also



  1. See, for example, the variety of derivations cited at "Germans" in the Rev. George William Lemon's English Etymology (1788).
  2. 1 2 3 Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "German, adj. and n". Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2012.
  3. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. "German". Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1996.