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An 1835 lithograph by H. A. Eckert showing the field artillery of the Austro-Hungarian Army


Borrowed from German Handlanger (handyman; henchman), from Hand (hand) + langen (to hand over, to give; to reach for something) + -er (in the sense of someone who puts things into another person's hands, that is, someone whose task it is to help another person succeed). The word was loaned into Dutch and might have entered English through the Dutch form.


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  • Hyphenation: Hand‧lang‧er


Handlanger (plural Handlangers)

  1. (military, historical) A low-ranking artillery soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army.
    • 1746 January 22, “Jovis, 22° die Januarii; Anno 20° Georgii II Regis, 1746”, in Journals of the House of Commons. From October the 17th, 1745, in the Nineteenth Year of the Reign of King George the Second, to November the 22nd, 1750, in the Twenty-fourth Year of the Reign of King George the Second. Re-printed by Order of the House of Commons, volume 25, London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, published 1803, OCLC 237516907, pages 247 and 250–251:
      Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, by His Majeſty's Command, preſented to the Houſe, Copy of a Convention between the King of Great Britain and the States General, on the one Part; and the Empreſs Queen of Hungary and Bohemia on the other— [] Artillery. [] 12 Gunners, or Handlangers. [] 2 Drummers, at the Pay of Handlangers. [] 4 Aſſiſtants, at the Pay of Handlangers.
    • 1973, Albert Seaton, The Austro-Hungarian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (Men-at-arms Series), Reading, Oxon.: Osprey Publishing, →ISBN:
      The Handlanger soldier was not a gunner or a bombardier, since he merely acted as labour on gun-sites []
    • 1990, Philip J. Haythornthwaite, Austrian Specialist Troops of the Napoleonic Wars (Men-at-arms Series; 223), London: Osprey Publishing, →ISBN, page 11:
      After the defeat of 1809, the four artillery regiments were kept in existence, but the Handlanger-Corps was reduced to a cadre.
    • 2003, David Hollins, Austrian Napoleonic Artillery 1792–1815 (New Vanguard; 72), Oxford: Osprey Publishing, →ISBN, page 14:
      The artillerymen concentrated on directing, loading and firing the guns, the remaining simpler functions being performed by the Handlanger. The No. 1 gunner inserted the charge and shot into the muzzle, No. 2 (a Handlanger) rammed it home and cleared the barrel with the sponge after firing. The chief gunner was No. 3, the Vormeister (gun commander) who was often a Bombardier, as were many Korporals. [] [H]e would also direct No. 5; the Handlanger holding the traversing spar and the Handlanger moving the gun.

Related termsEdit



Hand +‎ langen +‎ -er.


  • IPA(key): /ˈhantlaŋɐ/
  • Hyphenation: Hand‧lan‧ger
  • (file)


Handlanger m (genitive Handlangers, plural Handlanger)

  1. a handyman
  2. (politics) a henchman



Further readingEdit