mid-14c., "having the same parents," a doublet of german (adj.) but directly from Latin germanus instead of via French (compare urbane/urban). Main modern sense of "closely connected, relevant" (c. 1600) derives from use in "Hamlet" Act V, Scene ii: "The phrase would bee more Germaine to the matter: If we could carry Cannon by our sides," which is a figurative use of the word in the now-obsolete loosened sense of "closely related, akin" (late 15c.) in reference to things, not persons.
updated on April 25, 2017