The term was especially used for:
- First Reich, Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (to 1806)
- Second Reich, German Empire (1871-1918)
- Third Reich, National Socialist Germany (unofficial).
The official German name of the plutocratic-liberal Weimar Republic was the Deutsches Reich (German Reich). In this context it clearly refers to a State and not an empire. This name continued during National Socialist Germany between 1933-1943. During the 1943-1945 period it was changed to Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Reich).
Others include Reichsadler (German Eagle), Reichsautobahn (State arterial motor road), Reichskanzlei (State Chancery), Reichskanzler (State Chancellor), Reichspost (German State Post Office).
The term Reich is said to derive from the Proto-Indo-European reg- "move in a straight line," hence, "direct in a straight line, rule, guide". It is related to words such as "regal", "right", "rex", and "realm".
- Langenscheidt's Universal German-English Dictionary, New Edition, Munich & Berlin, 1976, p.472.
- Oxford German Dictionary by M.L. Barker and H. Homeyer, Clarendon press, Oxford, U.K., 1989, p.270, ISBN 0-19-864166-4
- See these words in "Online Etymology Dictionary" http://www.etymonline.com/