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Education Reference Desk | Online Education Resources for Students and Teachers

Armor vs Armour

by Brian R. Price
AKA SCA Brion Thornbird ap Rhys, Earl and Knight, OL
September 11, 1996



What’s the big deal with armor versus armour?

Decidedly, it is not a big issue. However, in American parlance, the term ‘armor’ can mean the military defensive equipment of a knight or an armored military unit as would employ ‘tanks’ and supporting vehicles. An ‘armorer’ is used to denote a gunsmith who cares for weapons or a maker of medieval armor.

I advance the following. Why not use the British spelling for each of the above to refer to Medieval arms & armour, and the American spelling to refer to modern tanks and weaponsmasters, since armour was never used in the United States (except for the Conquistadors–A 15th century sallet has been found in New Mexico, for example). I believe this would lend some clarity to the question, because the two form distinct communities that rarely cross paths.

So an ‘armourer’ refers to a craftsman who makes medieval armour elements; both the original craftsmen and the reproductionists who are attempting to work in the medieval style. Contrast this with an ‘armorer’ who works on firearms.

‘Armour’ then applies to the defensive equipment of a knight, while ‘armor’ refers to tracked military vehicles.

The separation of the two terms will have a small incremental improvement in clarity, once established.