Cultural Dictionary ethnicity [(eth- nis -uh-tee)] Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group's customs, beliefs, and language. World English Dictionary heritage (ˈhɛrɪtɪdʒ) — n 1. something inherited at birth, such as personal characteristics, status, and possessions 2. anything that has been transmitted from the past or handed down by tradition Those are the definitions I found, I think it is a bit confusing using those words. However as for what you "call" yourself. IMO, f you are born in America you are American, if you are born in Germany, you are German (excluding cases such as being born to a military family stationed in another country.) If you are German, and you move to America and become a citizen here, you are then German-American.