region in northeastern Germany, late 14c., Prusse (late 13c. as a surname), from Medieval Latin Borussi, Prusi, Latinized forms of the native name of the Lithuanian people who lived in the bend of the Baltic before being conquered 12c. and exterminated by (mostly) German crusaders who replaced them as the inhabitants.
Perhaps from Slavic *Po-Rus "(Land) Near the Rusi" (i.e. Russians; compare Pomerania). The German duchy of Prussia after the 17c. union with the Mark of Brandenberg became the core of the Prussian monarchy and later the chief state in the German Empire. The center of power shifted to Berlin after the union, and the old core of the state came to be known as East Prussia.