What does the German word really mean?

Where does the word "German" come from?

It is assumed that the word “German” is also an adjective in -isch, so ›deut‹ is a noun that died out around the 16th century and is derived from the terms “people”. and "people" was displaced.

Originally, the origin of the word ›German‹ can be traced back to the Middle High German word ›diet‹ (e.g. Dietmar, Dietrich) and the Old High German word “diot”. The noun "diot" or the adjective "diutisk" mean something like "people" and "belonging to the people" in Old High German.

The term “diot” is derived from the Germanic word “þeudō” and goes back to the Urindo-European roots “teutā” (grow, swell). Moreover, the word “teutā” also means “people” and in its original meaning “strength” or “power”. It is also the origin of the words "tumult" or "thumb" and basically describes the people as a crowd.

Important historical evidence of origin

The word “German” was first mentioned in the early Middle Ages in 786 as the Latin adverb “theodisce” in a Vatican code.

The Latin term “theodisce” is the origin of the Italian word “tedesco”. However, it is assumed that the word ›theodisce‹ in the Vatican code still means Anglo-Saxon. In 788, "theodisce" is mentioned in the Frankish imperial annals and describes German as the vernacular of all non-Latin or non-Roman language groups.

Later, the designation of German as a vernacular was mentioned in the year 1000 in the Aristotle translation by the St. Gallen monk Notker. However, the term "diutisk" only referred to both the language in the Annolied 1085 as well as the people.

Further names for German as a vernacular

Likewise, the Slavs referred to the non-Slavic speaking Teutons in the West as those who “have no language”. In Polish they were 'Niemcy‘And in Russian 'Nemcy‘, Which both start with the words'Niemy‘(Polish) and 'nemyj‘(Russian) are related and translated means“ mute ”.


  • Middle High German "diet" (people)
  • Old High German “diot” (people), ›diutisk‹ (belonging to / belonging to the people)
  • Urgermanic "þeudō"
  • Urindo-European "teutā" (grow, swell, strength, power)
  • Pseudo Old German "teutsch"
  • Old French "tudesque"
  • Italian "tedesco"
  • Latin "theodisce"