The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones (Ancient Greek Ερμίονες), were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia. Irminonic or Elbe Germanic is a conventional term grouping early West Germanic dialects ancestral to High German.
The name Irminones or Hermiones comes from Tacitus’s Germania (98 AD), where he categorized them as one of the tribes of descended from Mannus, and noted that they lived in the interior of Germany. Other Germanic groups of tribes were the Ingvaeones, living on the coast, and Istvaeones, who accounted for the rest. Tacitus also mentioned the Suebi as a large grouping who included the Semnones, the Quadi and the Marcomanni, but he did not say precisely which (if any) of the three nations they belong to.
Pomponius Mela wrote in his Description of the World (III.3.31) in reference to the Kattegat and the waters surrounding the Danish isles (see the Codanus sinus): "On the bay are the Cimbri and the Teutoni; farther on, the farthest people of Germania, the Hermiones." Mela then begins to speak of the Scythians.
In Nennius, the name Mannus and his three sons appear in corrupted form, the ancestor of the Irminones appearing as Armenon. His sons here are Gothus, Valagothus/Balagothus, Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus, whence come the Goths (and Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Crimean Goths), Valagoths/Balagoths, Cibidi, Burgundians, and Langobards.
They may have differentiated into the tribes Alamanni, Hermunduri, Marcomanni, Quadi, Suebi by the 1st century AD. By that time the Suebi, Marcomanni and Quadi had moved southwest into the area of modern-day Bavaria and Swabia. In 8 BC, the Marcomanni and Quadi drove the Boii out of Bohemia.
The term Suebi is usually applied to all the groups that moved into this area, though later in history (c. 200 AD) the term Alamanni (meaning "all-men") became more commonly applied to the group.
Jǫrmun, the Viking Age Norse form of the name Irmin, can be found in a number of places in the Poetic Edda as a by-name for Odin. Some aspects of the Irminones' culture and beliefs may be inferred from their relationships with the Roman Empire, from Widukind's confusion over whether Irmin was comparable to Mars or Hermes, and from Snorri Sturluson's allusions, at the beginning of the Prose Edda, to Odin's cult having appeared first in Germany, and then having spread up into the Ingvaeonic North.
- East Germanic languages
- High German languages
- Ingvaeonic languages
- Irminonic languages
- Istvaeonic languages
- List of confederations of Germanic tribes
- List of Germanic tribes
- North Germanic languages
- West Germanic languages
- Friedrich Maurer (1942), Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strasbourg: Hünenburg.
- Grimm, Jacob (1835). Deutsche Mythologie (German Mythology); From English released version Grimm's Teutonic Mythology (1888); Available online by Northvegr © 2004-2007:Chapter 15, page 2-; 3. File retrieved 09-26-2007.
- Tacitus, Germania (1st Century AD). (in Latin)
- Friedrich Maurer (1942) Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes- und Volkskunde, Strasbourg: Hünenburg.