One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Anatomy. A structure that holds (or appears to hold) something in place; specifically †(a) = "proligerous disc" (obsolete); (b) a ligamentous band retaining tendons in place, especially in the region of the wrist and ankle (frequently with distinguishing English or scientific Latin word or words).
2An arrangement of hooks, folds, or bristles, which interlocks the fore- and hindwings of various insects during flight; specifically that on the underside of the forewing in many butterflies and moths, engaging with a frenulum on the hindwing.
3In collembolans: a fused pair of appendages which hold back the furcula before releasing it for a spring.
4In plants of the acanthus family: each of the hooklike projections (modified funicles) on which the seeds are attached and which aid in their ejection; a jaculator.
5In orchids: the sticky gland of the rostellum to which the stalk of each of the pollinia (pollen masses) adheres; a viscidium; now rare. In asclepiads: the armlike process borne by each of the pollinia to aid pollen transfer.
Mid 17th century (in an earlier sense). From classical Latin retināculum rope that holds a thing fast, cable, tether, animal's rein, towing rope, in post-classical Latin also surgical clamp from retinēre + -culum.
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