Also called cartouche. a cylindrical case of pasteboard, metal, or the like, for holding a complete charge of powder, and often also the bullet or the shot for a rifle, machine gun, or other small arm.
a case containing any explosive charge, as for blasting.
any small container for powder, liquid, or gas, made for ready insertion into some device or mechanism: an ink cartridge for a pen.
Also called magazine. Photography. a lightproof metal or plastic container for a roll of film, usually containing both the supply and take-up spools, as well as a pressure plate, for rapid loading without the necessity of threading the film.
Audio. pickup(def 8).
a flat, compact container enclosing an endless loop of audiotape, operated by inserting into a slot in a player.

Origin of cartridge

1570–80; earlier cartage, cartrage, alteration of cartouche Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for cartridge

cylinder, cassette, tube, bullet, case, capsule, blank

Examples from the Web for cartridge

Contemporary Examples of cartridge

Historical Examples of cartridge

  • If you have a horse and a gun and a cartridge, it is not so bad.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • He was reluctant to exhaust a cartridge unless it was an absolute necessity.

    The Fiery Totem

    Argyll Saxby

  • "Come to," laughed Simmons, sending a cartridge home with his thumb.

  • But Lennon thrust his rifle through the back of his cartridge belt.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • Alfred walked over and stuck him in the throat to save a cartridge.

    Blazed Trail Stories

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for cartridge



a cylindrical, usually metal casing containing an explosive charge and often a bullet, for a rifle or other small arms
a case for an explosive, such as a blasting charge
an electromechanical transducer in the pick-up of a record player, usually either containing a piezoelectric crystal (crystal cartridge) or an electromagnet (magnetic cartridge)
a container for magnetic tape that is inserted into a tape deck in audio or video systems. It is about four times the size of a cassette
Also called: cassette, magazine photog a light-tight film container that enables a camera to be loaded and unloaded in normal light
computing a removable unit in a printer which contains black or coloured ink
computing a removable unit in a computer, such as an integrated circuit, containing software

Word Origin for cartridge

C16: from earlier cartage, variant of cartouche (cartridge)
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 cartridge

1570s, cartage, corruption of French cartouche "a full charge for a pistol," originally wrapped in paper (16c.), from Italian cartoccio "roll of paper," an augmentative form of Medieval Latin carta "paper" (see card (n.)). The notion is of a roll of paper containing a charge for a firearm. The modern form of the English word is recorded from 1620s. Extended broadly 20c. to other small containers and their contents.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper