The Wends are partly a term by some held equivalent to Vandals through a latinized form of Wendland, and partly a German abbreviation (also often used in English) for some Slavic people from north-central Europe. The term has not historically enjoyed consistent usage, but is most employed specifically for one or two Slavic groups and as an over-arching term.
The Franks referred to most Slavs living between the Odra and Laba as either Wends or Sorbs, while in Slavic literature these people are called Polabian Slavs.
As a result, it is still difficult today to present a coherent picture of the Wends as a people. For the Slavic interpretation, the term Wends was presumably used in the history in the following meanings:
1. In general - a German name for West Slavic people formerly inhabiting teritories of present day Pomerania and Eastern Germany. The term Wends was used in connection to all Slavs inhabiting west of Poland and north of Bohemia - Polabians, Pomeranians and Sorbs.
2. German and English name for Sorbs, a Slavic people who moved into Central Europe during the great migration, most likely in response to pressure by the westward movement of warlike peoples such as the Huns and Avars. Some of their descendants, also called Wends or Lusatian Sorbs (Lužički Srbi), still live in Lusatia today, where the Sorbian language is maintained in schools. Many Wends were driven out of Prussia during the revolutions of 1848. The Prussian (German Imperial) government insisted that Wends living in the area give up their language in schools and other public arenas. Moreover, the Wends who wished to continue living in the Empire were compelled to practice Lutheranism. A large part of the Wendish population of Prussia emigrated to countries that welcomed immigrants as a source of cheap labor, including the United States and Australia. In the United States, the majority of Wends landed in Texas, where they became some of the earliest members of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran church. A notable settlement of Wends in Texas is the town of Serbin , in Lee County, where a church, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, stands as a typical example of Wendish architecture. In St. Paul's, the pulpit is located in the balcony of the church.
3. German name for Kashubians.
4. Some Finnish historians claim that the words Wends or Vandals used in Scandinavian sources occasianally meant all peoples in Eastern coast of Baltic from Pomerania to Finland, including some Finnic peoples. The existence of these supposed Finnic Wends is far from clear. In 13th century there was indeed a people called Wends or Vends living as far as in Northern Latvia around the city of Wenden and it is not known if they were indeed Slavs as their name suggests. Some researchers think they were related to Finnic speaking Votians.
The term Wends was used formerly by Germans also in connection to Slavs in general.