Definition: A small drawstring purse.

Pronunciation: Ret-i-kyool

Origin:  Early 18th century – from French. Originally derived from the Latin reticulum, meaning a little net.

Why this word?

In early 18th century France, the purse of choice was the reticule – a small, drawstring bag of silk or rayon. Originally, it was a small net bag – thus explaining its link to the Latin reticulum. Rather interestingly, the reticule was the modern equivalent of the handbag itself – whereas today, one might well find several reticules inside a modern handbag – perhaps one used for your glasses, one for your lipstick and mirror, one for your dentures (maybe). One suspects that the evolution of fashion is moving towards the creation of a veritable matrushka of handbags. One looks forward to the mid-21st century when you may have to look inside your Versace burlap sack to find your Gucci handbag – inside of which is your antique Parisian Reticule.

How to use reticule in a sentence?

This could well be one of those words that you can casually slip into an everyday conversation. Your handbag contents are on the table. Your coffee is turning cold as your friend with tear-ruined mascara tells you that she has decided to leave her fourth husband. You felt genuine compassion for her on her first two – but by now you have developed an impermeable emotional callus. You spy the little bag that holds your lipstick – which you now know needs retouching having been bathed in the foam of a milky cappuccino. Nonchalantly, you say to your friend “Yes – that’s terrible dear. Can you pass me my reticule – I need to go to the bathroom”.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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