According to the dictionary, 兵器 = weapons, weaponry while 武器 = weapons, arms. It sounds like they are synonyms to me so I was wondering if those two words are synonyms or do they have some difference in meaning? If they are different can you guys provide some sample sentences for illustration? Thanks!

5 Answers 5


兵 (military)

兵器 (tool for military) = weapons; weaponry


武 (force)

武器 (tool for force) = weapons; arms

Both 兵器 and 武器 means weapons. The difference is 兵器 is more specifically referring to weapon for warfare, while 武器 is a more general term for all weapons

  • 冷兵器 (cold weapons) that are commonly used by soldiers like 刀、劍、長槍、弓箭 、狼牙棒 (Knife, sword, lance, bow and arrow, mace) can all be called 兵器 or 武器.

  • 現代兵器 (modern weapons) like 衝鋒槍、坦克、導彈 (sub-machine gun, tank, guided missile) are all 兵器/ 武器 too

  • On the other hand, anything that can be used for attack can be qualified as 武器. For example, 剪刀、石塊、摺椅、菜刀 (scissors, stones, folding chairs, kitchen knives) can all be 武器, but no one would call them 兵器 because those items were not commonly used in war

The term 武器 can be used metaphorically, for example: 用言語作为武器 (use words as weapon), but we don't use 兵器 this way

Something that can be called 兵器 can also be called 武器; something that can be used as 武器 but isn't commonly used in war cannot be called 兵器


I would translate it the other way:「武器」is weapons, weaponry, while「兵器」is weapons, arms.

  • 「兵器」should be translated to conventional weapons, that is, weapons used in conventional warfare involving soldiers「兵」- polearms, swords, bows, trebuchets. Some definitions of「兵器」exclude gunpowder weapons.
  • 「武器」is a all-encompassing broad term for any type of military「武」weapon, extended to mean weapon in general. Anything that cannot be categorised as「兵器」, like demoralising propaganda or radar support system or nuclear missile can be called「武器」.

answer available in online dictionaries, e.g. (excerpts from)bkrs, 武器#1833:① [weapon; implements of warfare; military hardware; arms]直接用于杀伤敌人有生力量和破坏敌方作战设施的器械、装置,如刀、枪、火炮、导弹等。 ② [means]∶泛指进行斗争的工具:思想武器。常规武器 conventional weapons 化学武器 细菌武器 放下武器 核武器 轻武器 small arms 拿起武器

兵器 #10265[weapons; arms;armament] 军事斗争中包含有各种杀伤力、 破坏力的器械装置 兵器消毒(desactivation) 奇型兵器 (rare form) 远战兵器 中国古代兵器 兵器库 (weapon depot),more at bkrs

google"武器"跟"兵器"有什么不同-> e.g.https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/2052465331002155467.html


As a Chinese I think No difference! Only when to make combination, like 杀伤性武器,制式兵器 etc. To get used to these combinations, read a lot.

  • Come on, have some curiosity. If two similar terms are not wrote the same, there must be reason behind it.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 20:06

武器 can sometimes be used figuratively, 兵器 cannot. When they mean 'weapons' they are interchangeable.

  • Please give some examples.
    – zyy
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 23:53

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