1570s, cartage, "case of cardboard, tin, etc., holding a charge of gunpowder" (also with the bullet or shot in firearms), 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.1)). 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. Cartridge-belt is by 1832.