• germane •
jêr-mayn • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Relevant, pertinent, on point, related.
Notes: Today's Good Word looks a lot like German, but don't confuse the two. The noun for this adjective is germaneness; no one has yet dared to venture germanity. The adverb, germanely, has been used enough to make the dictionaries but not the Microsoft English spell-checker, which underlines it as a word not found.
In Play: Today's word indicates a relationship of any kind: "I for one think the size of the parking lot is very germane to the question of how many employees we hire." If the meaning of this word leans in any direction, it is toward a causal relationship: "Well, Lance, I don't quite see how your father's producing this film is germane to your receiving a role in it."
Word History: Today's Good Word came from Old French germain, a direct descendant of Latin germen "shoot (of a plant)". In English, it became a variant of german "genuine, real, having the same parents". This word is often used in compounds like brother-german "full brother", sister-german "full sister", as opposed to half-brothers and half-sisters. This is where germane gets its meaning of "truly related". It may be related to the name of the German people though that isn't clear. It is related to germ in the sense of the heart of a seed, the origin of an organism, and the verb germinate. (The idea for today's most germane Good Word germinated in the lexically fertile mind of the Grand Panjandrum of our Agora, Mark Bailey.)
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