What Were Germans Called in Ancient Times?

Germany is a country that has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It is a land that has been inhabited by various tribes and civilizations, each leaving their unique mark on the land and its people. In this article, we will delve into the question – What were Germans called in ancient times?

Origins of the Germanic Tribes

The Germanic tribes are believed to have originated from Scandinavia and migrated southwards towards modern-day Germany. These tribes were known for their fierce warrior culture and were often referred to as barbarians by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

The Name ‘German’

The name ‘German’ is believed to have originated from the Latin word ‘Germani’, which was used by Julius Caesar to describe the tribes he encountered during his campaigns in Gaul (modern-day France). The exact meaning of the word is not clear, but it is thought to mean ‘neighbour’ or ‘brother’.

Other Names for Germans

The ancient Greeks referred to the Germanic tribes as ‘Germans’, while the Romans used various names such as ‘Teutones’, ‘Cimbri’, and ‘Suebi’. The term ‘Teutonic’ is still used today to describe things that are related to Germany.

The Holy Roman Empire

In medieval times, Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a vast empire that covered much of Europe. The people of this empire were known as ‘Romans’ or simply as ‘Germans’.

The Modern Day Name

The modern-day name for Germans is simply ‘Deutsche’. This name has its origins in the Old High German word ‘diutisc’, which meant “belonging to the people”.


In conclusion, Germans have been called many different names throughout history, each reflecting the culture and language of the time. From the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Holy Roman Empire and modern-day Germany, the name ‘German’ has evolved with the times, but the spirit of the people remains strong.