Definition of cartouche in English:



  • 1A carved tablet or drawing representing a scroll with rolled-up ends, used ornamentally or bearing an inscription.

    • ‘In fact, the inscriptions in the cartouches at the top of each scroll were taken from Genshin's treatise.’
    plaque, nameplate, door plate, tablet, sign, brass, medallion, plaquette
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A decorative architectural feature, such as a modillion or corbel, resembling a scroll.
      • ‘He hit upon the idea after noticing that an image on the cartouche above the hall's south steps looked a bit like a gnome.’
      • ‘The plaster frieze with cartouches and swags of fruit and the luminous stained-glass panels over the windows give the room a baroque glamour.’
      • ‘As the Vincennes factory was originally set up to rival the products of Meissen, the gilding around the front cartouche is still in the Meissen style with its bat wings, trellis, and stiff peaks.’
      • ‘The exceptionally well-proportioned case of richly figured mahogany original except for the cartouche, finials, feet, and dial-arch molding, is a monument to the rococo style.’
  • 2An ornate frame around a design or inscription.

    ‘a coat of arms in a cartouche’
    • ‘The back is conceived as a cartouche surmounted by arms, a device which features prominently in contemporary Roman design books by Domenico de Rossi, Giovanni Giardini and others.’
    • ‘The surviving cartouche designs resemble a rooster and fragments of two so-called seahorses.’
    • ‘The great majority of Stone's other armorial cartouches were for funerary monuments, while the Russell / Brydges cartouches were obviously designed with the spirit of the grotto in mind.’
    • ‘Revere enhanced the coat of arms with an asymmetrical cartouche, a curling trompe l' oeil motto scroll, and plants - all rococo devices.’
    • ‘Indeed, they frequently serve as frames or cartouches for coats of arms, personal devices, or statues of patron saints venerated by religious institutions.’
    • ‘There are four masks - but only two designs - with cartouche surrounds in the four corners of the grotto at the springing of the ribs, notionally supporting the roof.’
    • ‘Their names are inscribed above their heads, with a text describing the occasion presented in a cartouche.’
    • ‘Each is massively framed by an ornate gilt rococo cartouche carved by Giovanni Giuliani in 1706.’
    • ‘The central figure is St Anne, standing on a pedestal that is decorated with female hybrid creatures, which frame a ritual inscription in a cartouche.’
    • ‘The lantern is suspended from chains fixed to the center of a shell cartouche with a representation of another royal crown painted on the ceiling of the Queen's Staircase.’
    1. 2.1Archaeology An oval or oblong enclosing a group of Egyptian hieroglyphs, typically representing the name and title of a monarch.
      • ‘The cartouche or oval ring enclosing the name of Tutankhamun was found on objects throughout his tomb.’
      • ‘As the son and successor of King Huni and Meresankh I, he was the first king to use the oval cartouche, as opposed to the rectangular serekh, to frame his name when it was written down.’
      • ‘A preliminary examination of one of the stelae revealed that it was divided into two parts, the upper section bearing the cartouche of Amenemhet III - who ruled in about 1800 BC.’
      • ‘But there in her sanctuary, I could still find her name inscribed in her cartouche, the ring of eternity.’
      • ‘Champollion wondered if the first hieroglyph in the cartouche, the disc, might represent the sun, and then he assumed its sound value to be that of the Coptic word for sun, ‘ra’.’


Early 17th century: from French cartouche (masculine noun), earlier cartoche, from Italian cartoccio, from carta, from Latin carta, charta (see card).