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Two Panzer IIIs during the Battle of Greece, April 1941

Panzer /ˈpænzər/ (German pronunciation: [ˈpantsɐ] (About this sound listen)) is a German word that means armour. It is also used by German-speakers as an abbreviation meaning "armoured fighting vehicle" or tank (the military vehicle). The full German word for "armoured combat vehicle" is Panzerkampfwagen. The word Panzer is occasionally used in English and some other languages as a loanword in the context of the German military.


It is mostly used in the proper names of military formations (Panzerdivision, ‘panzer division’, 4th Panzer Army, etc.), and in the proper names of tanks, such as Panzer IV, etc.


The dated but official German term is Panzerkampfwagen, ‘tank’ or literally ‘armoured combat vehicle’ (the modern commonly used synonym is Kampfpanzer, or just Panzer). The first German tank, the A7V of 1918, was referred to as Sturmpanzerwagen (roughly, "armoured assault vehicle").

The German word Panzer refers to any kind of armour, as in Plattenpanzer, ‘plate armour’, Kettenpanzer, ‘mail’, or generally gepanzert, ‘armoured’. The word also refers to an animal's protective shell or thick hide, as in Schildkrötenpanzer, ‘turtle shell'. Steel electrical conduit is called Stahlpanzerrohr, literally "steel armour pipe". Bulletproof glass is called Panzerglas, literally "armoured glass". It derives through the French word pancier, ‘breastplate’, from Latin pantex, ‘belly, paunch’,[1] and is possibly related to panus, ‘swelling’.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "panzer". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "paunch". Online Etymology Dictionary.