1630s, "of Germany or Germans," from Latin Germanicus, from Germani (see German (n.)). From 1773 as "of the Teutonic race;" from 1842 especially with reference to the language family that includes German, Dutch, English, etc. As a noun, the name of that language family, by 1892, replacing earlier Teutonic. Germanical is attested from 1550s.
Entries linking to Germanic
"a native of Germany," 1520s, from Latin Germanus (adjective and noun, plural Germani), first attested in writings of Julius Caesar, who used Germani to designate a group of tribes in northeastern Gaul, of unknown origin and considered to be neither Latin nor Germanic. Perhaps originally the name of an individual tribe, but Gaulish (Celtic) origins have been proposed, from words perhaps originally meaning "noisy" (compare Old Irish garim "to shout") or "neighbor" (compare Old Irish gair "neighbor"). Middle English had Germayns (plural, late 14c.), but only in the sense "ancient Teuton, member of the Germanic tribes." The earlier English word was Almain (early 14c., via French; see Alemanni) or Dutch. Shakespeare and Marlowe have Almain for "German; a German."
Þe empere passede from þe Grees to þe Frenschemen and to þe Germans, þat beeþ Almayns. [Ranulph Higden’s "Polychronicon," mid-14c., John Trevisa's translation, 1380s]
Their name for themselves, die Deutschen (see Dutch), dates from 12c. Roman writers also used Teutoni as a German tribal name, and writers in Latin after about 875 commonly refer to the German language as teutonicus (see Teutonic). Meaning "the German language" in English is from 1748. High German (1823 in English) and Low German as a division of dialects is geographical: High German (from 16c. established as the literary language) was the German spoken in the upland regions in southern Germany, Low German (often including Dutch, Frisian, Flemish), also called Plattdeutsch was spoken in the regions near the North Sea. In the U.S. German also was used of descendants of settlers from Germany.
Used in English in anthropology to avoid the modern political association of German; but in this anthropological sense French uses germanique and German uses germanisch, because neither uses its form of German for the narrower national meaning (compare French allemand, for which see Alemanni; and German deutsch, under Dutch). In Finnish, Germany is Saksa "Land of the Saxons."
The Teutonic Knights (founded c.1191) were a military order of German knights formed for service in the Holy Land, but who later crusaded in then-pagan Prussia and Lithuania. The Teutonic cross (1882) was the badge of the order.