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I don’t normally explain jokes, but it’s clear from the useR conference that the name of the new R package reticulate divides people into two groups: amused or bemused.

The word reticulate barely exists in modern English. It comes from the Latin reticulum, ‘small net’, the diminutive of rete, net. In NZ and Australian usage, mains water – supplied by a network of pipes – is called a ‘reticulated water supply.’ There are also scientific and artistic uses referring to a netted appearance – in stone, in plant leaves, in insect wings, and (most relevantly) in the scale markings of Python reticulatus, the reticulated python.

So, reticulate is a Python interface package for R – with the additional suggestion of being a copy of Python caught in a net inside R.