I’ll admit it: before I began researching this topic, I had never used the word reticle in a sentence. So how did it end up as a target for Mind Your Language?
Gun picture from Shutterstock
Reader Kozo wrote in to point out that reticle and reticule are often confused:
Please point out that “reticule” is a handbag and not the centre of an eyepiece or gun sight. People are still confused between the two — a quick search on Kotaku shows up lots of matches for reticule and I’m sure none of them were about handbags.
Checking on Kotaku, our sibling gaming site, does indeed turn up a lot of references to reticules in a totally non-handbag context. For instance:
The reticule that you use for the Blink teleport ability can be hard to see/aim, making it a bit of painful guesswork to figure out if Corvo will be going exactly where you want him to.
Turning to the Macquarie Dictionary confirms the difference between the two words:
reticle a network of fine lines, wires or the like, placed in the focus of the objective of a telescope
reticule a small purse or bag, originally of network but later of silk
Tellingly, the Macquarie even includes the note “compare RETICULE” on its entry for reticle. Evidently, this is a common mistake. (Note also that “network” in the definition of reticule refers to netting.)
The lesson here? In a games context, reticle will always be the word you want (and Kotaku will now strive to maintain that distinction). In the Lifehacker universe, we’re possibly more likely to write about bags than weaponry, but we’d still need to make the right choice. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.