Attested from the 15th century, in the 14th in the compound götzenträger for "icon". In the 15th and 16th centuries a term for for "cast image", and more generally for "image, likeness". In the 15th century used in the sense of "fool, stupid person", presumably influenced by Götz, a short form of the given name Gottfried. Grimm cites a folk song collected by Uhland (1881), based on a manuscript dated to 1603, where götze takes the meaning of kobold as evidence that this may have been the original sense.
The meaning of "false god, idol" is due to Luther. Early usage in Luther is in the sense of "mask" or "mummer", especially of clerics as the "masks" of the pope, or the pope as "mask" of the devil; later, Luther moves away from this usage and begins using the word as a synonym of Abgott "false god".
- (obsolete) any image; a mask, a mummer
- 1521 was wollt yhr, götzen und larven des bapsts, da widder sagen Luther (8, 496) ("what will you, the pope's götzen and masks, answer to this?")
- (obsolete) fool
- 1494 wer jn sich selbst vertruwen setz / der ist eyn narr vnd doreht goetz (Sebastian Brant, Ship of Fools) ("whoso in himself does trust / he is a fool and fatuous götz")
- 1662 du alberner götze (J. Prätorius. Philosophia Colus, p. 118).
- Jacob Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch
- Götze in Duden online