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 ?


  • 4
    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. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 21:47
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 11:11
  • It's a foo/bar-ish variable name, when you don't have the time or the will to find a meaningful name. You would call it toto or titi as well, but germaine adds a little of old-fashionned coziness (it's a typical (grand-)grandma's first name).
    – XouDo
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 14:51

5 Answers 5


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. Commented Aug 20, 2019 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
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 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
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 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.

  • 2
    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.
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 7:26

"Germaine" is the female version of "Germain", which is the french adaption of the old germanic name "German". This name means "the man with the javelin": "Ger" is the germanic word for a javelin (which is, btw, a popular thing in crosswords), and "man" is, well, the word for "a man." There are a lot of names in Germany which have a "ger" in it, like Gerhard, Gerda, Gerlinde, Gertrud and so on. It's an very old-fashioned way of naming, not that popular in these times. So Germane is the female version of German, and - surprise, surprise! - it means: "The woman with the javelin". Trust me. It's my name. :) Best from Germany, Germaine.

  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question.
    – None
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 7:32
  • 1
    I guess very few french people know this etymology, so that does not really answer the question
    – XouDo
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 14:46
  • This would benefit from citing your sources if you are trying to answer the question. Most etymology research on this points to Latin. Please see the help center, specifically how to answer.
    – livresque
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 0:03

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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.