Panzer /ˈpænzər/ is a German language word that means either tank or armour.
In English and some other languages, Panzer is a loanword from the German Panzer ( ), meaning "armour". It is also used in the compounds Panzerdivision, ‘panzer division’ and dated Panzerkampfwagen, ‘tank’ or literally ‘armoured combat vehicle’ (the modern synonym is Kampfpanzer, or just Panzer).
The German word Panzer refers to any kind of body 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'. It derives through the French pancier, ‘breastplate’, from Latin pantex, ‘belly, paunch’, and is possibly related to panus, ‘swelling’.
A good example for the use of the word "Panzer" in German is the Indian Rhinoceros or Panzernashorn, whose appearance resembles an armoured medieval knight.
The word has been calqued in many other languages, such as Swedish pansarvagn or Finnish panssarivaunu, ‘tracked armoured fighting vehicle’, Danish and Norwegian panservogn, ‘armoured vehicle’, but kampvogn means ‘tank’.
Due to the similarities of the words, Panzer is sometimes erroneously confused with the German Panther tank.