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name of a Suebic tribe or confederation that settled in Alsace and part of Switzerland (and source of French Allemand "German, a German"), from Proto-Germanic *Alamanniz, probably meaning "all-man" and denoting a wide alliance of tribes, but perhaps meaning "foreign men" (cf. Allobroges, name of a Celtic tribe in what is now Savoy, in Latin literally "the aliens," in reference to their having driven out the original inhabitants), in which case the al- is cognate with the first element in Latin alius "the other" and English else.
a Germanic people first mentioned in connection with the Roman attack on them in AD 213. In the following decades, their pressure on the Roman provinces became severe; they occupied the Agri Decumates c. 260, and late in the 5th century they expanded into Alsace and northern Switzerland, establishing the German language in those regions. In 496 they were conquered by Clovis and incorporated into his Frankish dominions.