a thin, flat cake of batter fried on both sides on a griddle or in a frying pan; griddlecake or flapjack.
Also called pancake landing. an airplane landing made by pancaking.

verb (used without object), pan·caked, pan·cak·ing.

(of an airplane or the like) to drop flat to the ground after leveling off a few feet above it.

verb (used with object), pan·caked, pan·cak·ing.

Informal. to flatten, especially as the result of a collision or other mishap: The car had been pancaked by the bus.
to cause (an airplane) to pancake.

Origin of pancake

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at pan1, cake

Regional variation note

1. Pancake, hot cake, griddlecake, and flapjack, with its derived slapjack, are used interchangeably by many people, regardless of whether a pan or griddle is used for cooking, and each term is widely used throughout the U.S. Flannel cake, however, is confined chiefly to the North Midland U.S. and battercake to South Midland and Southern U.S. The following terms have limited regional use and may refer to flat cakes with different recipes or cooking methods: johnnycake, which is used in the Northeastern U.S.; corncake in the Midland and Southern U.S.; and hoecake in the South Midland and Southern U.S.




a brand of cosmetic in a semimoist cake of compressed powder, usually applied with a moist sponge. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for pancake

cake, waffle, crepe, wheat, blanket, sourdough, johnnycake, flapjack

Examples from the Web for pancake

Contemporary Examples of pancake

Historical Examples of pancake

  • He was good at this; he could have flattened the Vendome column like a pancake.


    Emile Zola

  • "His head's no'but a lump of puddin' and a daub o' pancake," thought Gubblum.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • They are excellent when eaten with German pancake, fried bread or French toast.

    Desserts and Salads

    Gesine Lemcke

  • Her nose is as flat as a pancake and she rouges something fierce.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • Think I'm hankering about being smashed flatter'n a pancake, do you?

British Dictionary definitions for pancake



  1. a thin flat cake made from batter and fried on both sides, often served rolled and filled with a sweet or savoury mixture
  2. (as modifier)pancake mix
a Scot name for drop scone
a stick or flat cake of compressed make-up
Also called: pancake landing an aircraft landing made by levelling out a few feet from the ground and then dropping onto it


to cause (an aircraft) to make a pancake landing or (of an aircraft) to make a pancake landing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pancake

early 15c. (late 13c. as a surname), from pan (n.) + cake (n.); as symbol of flatness c.1600.


"to squeeze flat," 1879, from pancake (n.). Later, of aircraft, "to fall flat" (1911), with figurative extension. Related: Pancaked; pancaking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pancake


see flat as a pancake.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.