AskDefine | Define cartouche

Dictionary Definition

cartouche n : a cartridge (usually with paper casing) [syn: cartouch]

User Contributed Dictionary



French, from Italian cartoccio, from carta, from Latin charta, from Ancient Greek χάρτης (khartēs)


  • italbrac RP /kɑːˈtuːʃ/
  • italbrac US /kɑːrˈtuːʃ/


  1. an ornamental figure, often on an oval shield
  2. (Egyptian hieroglyphics) an oval figure containing characters that represent the names of royal or divine people
  3. a paper cartridge


  • 1887 — H. Rider Haggard, She, ch III
    Besides the uncial writing on the convex side of the sherd at the top, painted in dull red, on what had once been the lip of the amphora, was the cartouche already mentioned as being on the scarabaeus, which we had also found in the casket. The hieroglyphics or symbols, however, were reversed, just as though they had been pressed on wax.


in architecture
paper cartridge
  • Swedish: kardus (general-purpose container), kartesch (specific for artillery cartridges)



from Italian cartoccio, from carta, from Latin charta, from Ancient Greek χάρτης (khartēs)


  1. cartouche (ornamental figure)
  2. cartouche (Egyptian hieroglyphic of name)
  1. cartridge (explosive shell)

Extensive Definition

In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche is an oblong enclosure with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name, coming into use during the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu. The Ancient Egyptian word for it was shenu, and it was essentially an expanded shen ring. In Demotic, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of parentheses and a vertical line.
Of the five royal titularies it was the throne name, also referred to as prenomen, and the "Son of Re" titulary, the so-called nomen, i.e. the name given at birth, which were enclosed by a cartouche.
At times amulets were given the form of a cartouche displaying the name of a king and placed in tombs. Such items are often important to archaeologists for dating the tomb and its contents. There were periods in Egyptian history when people refrained from inscribing these amulets with a name, for fear they might fall into somebody's hands conferring power over the bearer of the name.


It is said that the label cartouche was first applied by soldiers who fancied that the symbol they saw so frequently repeated on the pharaonic ruins they encountered resembled a muzzle-loading firearm's paper powder cartridge ( in French).


cartouche in Czech: Kartuše
cartouche in Danish: Kartouche
cartouche in German: Hieroglyphenkartusche
cartouche in Spanish: Cartucho egipcio
cartouche in Esperanto: Kartuŝo
cartouche in French: Cartouche (hiéroglyphe)
cartouche in Galician: Cartucho exipcio
cartouche in Icelandic: Bókrolluskreyti
cartouche in Italian: Cartiglio
cartouche in Hungarian: Kártus
cartouche in Dutch: Cartouche (Egypte)
cartouche in Japanese: カルトゥーシュ
cartouche in Norwegian: Kartusj
cartouche in Polish: Kartusz (architektura)
cartouche in Portuguese: Cartela
cartouche in Russian: Картуш (Египет)
cartouche in Finnish: Kartussi
cartouche in Swedish: Kartusch
cartouche in Ukrainian: Картуш
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