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[kahr-toosh] /kɑrˈtuʃ/
Architecture. a rounded, convex surface, usually surrounded with carved ornamental scrollwork, for receiving a painted or low-relief decoration, as an escutcheon.
an oval or oblong figure, as on ancient Egyptian monuments, enclosing characters that represent the name of a sovereign.
the case containing the inflammable materials in certain fireworks.
cartridge (def 1).
a box for cartridges.
Also, cartouch.
1605-15; < Middle French < Italian cartoccio, equivalent to cart(a) paper (see carte) + -occio augmentative suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cartouche
  • The octagonal pedestal is ornamented with a cartouche on each of its sides.
  • Cartographer has included an elegant cartouche and a brilliant wind rose as well.
  • The die bears the outline of a policeman's shield or badge on all four sides, as a cartouche.
  • The oval cartouche at the entrance to the chamber features the state flower, the apple blossom.
  • Map also contains a decorative and entertaining cartouche featuring local wildlife and vegetation.
  • Centered over the portal is a cartouche with a coat of arms on a diapered background.
  • The central pediment is decorated with incised decoration and holds a cartouche and clock.
  • In demotic, the cartouche was reduced to a pair of parentheses and a vertical line.
British Dictionary definitions for cartouche


a carved or cast ornamental tablet or panel in the form of a scroll, sometimes having an inscription
an oblong figure enclosing characters expressing royal or divine names in Egyptian hieroglyphics
the paper case holding combustible materials in certain fireworks
(rare) a cartridge or a box for cartridges
Word Origin
C17: from French: scroll, cartridge, from Italian cartoccio, from carta paper; see card1
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
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Word Origin and History for cartouche

1610s, "scroll-like ornament," also "paper cartridge," from French cartouche, the French form of cartridge (q.v.). Application to Egyptian hieroglyphics dates from 1830, on resemblance to rolled paper cartridges.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for cartouche

in architecture, ornamentation in scroll form, applied especially to elaborate frames around tablets or coats of arms; by extension, the word is applied to any oval shape or even to a decorative shield, whether scrolled or not. The term is also used for an oval frame enclosing the hieroglyphs of the name of an Egyptian sovereign, as well as for the amulet of similar design worn in ancient Egypt as a protection against the loss of one's name (i.e., one's identity)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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