ger·​mane (ˌ)jər-ˈmān How to pronounce germane (audio)
: being at once relevant and appropriate : fitting
omit details that are not germane to the discussion
obsolete : closely akin
germanely adverb

Did you know?

"Wert thou a Leopard, thou wert Germane to the Lion." So wrote William Shakespeare in his tragic play Timon of Athens, using an old (and now-obsolete) sense of germane meaning "closely akin." Germane derives from the Latin word germen, meaning "bud" or "sprout," which is also at the root of our verb germinate, meaning "to sprout" or "to begin to develop." An early sense of germane referred specifically to children of the same parents, who were perhaps seen as being like buds on a single tree. Again, we turn to Shakespeare, who composed this dark line in The Winter's Tale: "Not he alone shall suffer what wit can make heavy and vengeance bitter; but those that are germane to him … shall all come under the hangman…."

Choose the Right Synonym for germane

relevant, germane, material, pertinent, apposite, applicable, apropos mean relating to or bearing upon the matter in hand.

relevant implies a traceable, significant, logical connection.

found material relevant to her case

germane may additionally imply a fitness for or appropriateness to the situation or occasion.

a point not germane to the discussion

material implies so close a relationship that it cannot be dispensed with without serious alteration of the case.

facts material to the investigation

pertinent stresses a clear and decisive relevance.

a pertinent observation

apposite suggests a felicitous relevance.

add an apposite quotation to the definition

applicable suggests the fitness of bringing a general rule or principle to bear upon a particular case.

the rule is not applicable in this case

apropos suggests being both relevant and opportune.

the quip was apropos

Examples of germane in a Sentence

The press material for this film contains some notes made by the Dardenne brothers during the shooting. Such material is usually disposable, but these notes are germane.. Stanley Kauffmann, New Republic, 3 Feb. 2003
Bork and his supporters argued that his "academic" writings and his speeches were not germane to whether he should be confirmed. Elizabeth Drew, New Yorker, 2 Nov. 1987
From time to time, engineers and scientists hold conferences … where they trot out ideas they have developed, frequently ideas germane to solving practical problems. Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, (1984) 1985
facts germane to the dispute my personal opinion isn't germane to our discussion of the facts of the case
Recent Examples on the Web While season 1 tackled several hot topics, season 2 goes even further, examining a range of subjects germane to Indian society and beyond. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 30 Aug. 2023 Characters who make the mistake of thinking that heroism depends on pragmatism and political intelligence—in The Scottish Chiefs, the unlikable Lady Mar raises such germane questions as the distribution of power and the viability of resistance—are shut down. Clare Bucknell, The New York Review of Books, 21 Oct. 2021 Manufacturer Stores The first set of merchants arguably most germane to PCMag readers are the makers of computers and technology that sell directly to customers, both online and off--but most sell online exclusively. Eric Griffith, PCMAG, 26 July 2023 He was mystified that the foundation would keep information from judges that is germane to their duties as voters. Julia Moskin, New York Times, 31 May 2023 Sundays through June 11, includes monologues and ensemble pieces centered on women, clothing and memories of prom, buying a bra after having cancer and other topics germane to women’s lives. Sheryl Devore, Chicago Tribune, 25 May 2023 The letter seems especially germane this week as the BSO performs Shostakovich’s mighty Thirteenth Symphony against the backdrop of Russia’s horrific war in Ukraine. Jeremy Eichler,, 5 May 2023 The attorneys general, who will work together, also have the authority to take depositions and testimony from key decision-makers involved in workplace environment, training, pay and other areas germane to the investigation. Alexandra E. Petri, Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2023 The dungeon fantasia is a conjuring of tall flickering votives, piped-in monk-ish chanting and — most germane — an exhaustive mélange of torture devices, often paired with mannequins contorted in extreme distress, to really tie the rooms together. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'germane.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English germain, literally, having the same parents, from Anglo-French

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of germane was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near germane

Cite this Entry

“Germane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ger·​mane (ˌ)jər-ˈmān How to pronounce germane (audio)
: both relevant and appropriate
a germane comment
germanely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on germane

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