I am reading an old code base written by a previous French colleague. He named a variable 'Germaine', which is the percentage of hotel room booked. This variable is used to set price for the rest of the rooms: obviously the less rooms left, the higher our price is for the rest.

I searched internet and found that this word means 'German' or 'Germany' in French, or a Saint

Does anyone here has any insight why he names the booking ratio Germaine? is this some kind of slang ?


  • 3
    Note that the answer you accepted is wrong. If a French programmer names a variable “Germaine”, it's just some random first name. It does not connote ”related to“ at all. – Gilles 'SO nous est hostile' Aug 20 '19 at 21:47
  • Probably a joke. Programmers are fond of these kinds of jokes. It might even be a running gag joke. For instance, I know that one particular colleague of mine wrote a piece of code if a useless variable is named 'kamoulox' somewhere. This is his trademark. – Steph Jan 14 '20 at 11:11

I believe in the US you spell it germane, which means indeed "related to". So probably in the context they ment that the price was related to the number of booked romms.

Not to confuse with "german" - funny I just saw again an old (and hilarious movie) about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyWVPHoFGJA

  • 2
    No, germaine in French does not mean that at all. The adjective germain is used almost exclusively in the phrase “cousin germain”, and never to mean two related things. – Gilles 'SO nous est hostile' Aug 20 '19 at 21:46
  • This English word comes from the French word "germain", as in "cousins germains". But "germain" alone doesn't mean that in French. If the question was about someone in Québec, we could consider this to be a possible link, but here, it cannot. The English is a changed use of the French word. etymonline.com/word/germane – Quidam Jan 14 '20 at 7:03


  • either a given name, which used to be rather popular, but nowadays, only old persons have this name;
  • or the feminine form of an adjective which means "germane" (and not "German"!) in English, i.e. two things are "germain(e)" when they are related; the most common use of that word is in the expression "cousin(e)s germain(e)s", which is used for 1st degree cousins, people whose parents are siblings.

To my knowledge it's not used in any locution and it's not slang for anything. It was probably chosen at random, I really don't see what it would have to do with booked hotel rooms. Maybe your colleague's mother is named Germaine.

PS: "German" is translated as "allemand" in French. "Germany" is "Allemagne". "Germanic" is "germanique" though.

  • 1
    "Germain" can still have a relation to Germany: "Germanic" can also be translated as "germain", if it refers to ancient populations of Germany. And today, in a literary or journalistic usage, the noun and the adjective can sometimes be used to refer to Germany, albeit with a rather negative connotation. – Greg Feb 25 '18 at 7:11

In Quebec French, germaine is slang for a bossy woman. It is a portmanteau word created from the verbs "gérer" (manage) and "mener" (lead).

Although i doubt it got it's name from that slang, it might have been formed the same way. In programming you often create names by mashing two or more words together. Also, since programming terms are often in english, the original words might be french, english or even another language if your area has a different native language.

It could also be nonsense, programmers are notorious for that sort of thing.

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    This is most probably "non-sense" or simply bad programming. Giving variables meaningful names is a best-practice but when you don't know that or don't do that, why not name your variables Germaine, Cyril ou Laurent instead of i, x or temp... – Laurent S. Dec 24 '19 at 7:26

If he is French from France, and not Canadian (as in this case, it could be other reasons I guess), it's likely he gave this name because of the connotations of the name "Germaine".

Germaine is a very old-fashioned name. It's a given name. A granny name.
(Until it comes back à la mode again)

There's a Renaud's song (maybe he is a Renaud fan?) called "Germaine",
in which he declares his love to a woman called Germaine, that plays musette, and talks like Arletty. = It's not exactly an evidence of modernity. Hence the humorous side of the song, with a lag between his love as still a young man, and having a granny dancing the java.

The male name is Germain, and the female Germaine.
It's the equivalent of the name "Jermaine" in English (one of the brother of Michael Jackson), but given to girls.

The French name Germain became Jermaine in English, when borrowed.

Germaine could come from "Germany" (or rather "germanicus", from Germany) as one of the possible etymology, etc, but it's only the etymology, and only one of the hypothesis.

A more accepted one, is that "Germain" (male) "Germaine" (female) comes from the old German "gari", meaning "spear", and for the "main", the hypothesis are very different according to the source, some says it means "man", some other it's from "mundo" meaning "protective", so a protective spear...

Another possible etymology, is that it comes from the Latin "germanus" meanins "coming from the same blood/family".

The English word "germane" meaning related, comes from French "germain" as in "cousins germains".



I've searched for a possible link between the name "Germaine" and the prostitution (as you mentioned an "hotel"), and I've found nothing. So, it's not the right track.

It sounds more like a joke, rather than some other deep meanings.

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