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What is a pocketbook?

What is a pocketbook?


What is a pocketbook? A Pocketbook is a slang term for a woman's bag, and it's also used to refer to the purse that a woman carries with her when she is out and about. There are many traditional pocketbooks, but the pocketbook is also often a term for a small bag that can be carried in the pocket of your trousers or skirt.

What is a pocketbook?

Pocketbooks, also known as handbags, are a strong symbol of a woman's identity. They are a way to express oneself and to keep one's personal belongings close at hand. These days, however, women carry more than just a purse—they take their laptops and other electronic devices with them, too. If you are someone who carries a pocketbook, you might get the impression that all your belongings are in there, and that your bag is your life.


The word is also sometimes used to describe a man's wallet. The term has its origins in England, where a "pocketbook" was a small compartment designed to hold a pocket journal. The first pocketbook appeared in the early 18th century, but it was not until the 1820s that the term began to be used to describe women's handbags.

Pocketbooks, Handbags, Totes, or Purses, are long and narrow bags worn on the body with a detachable strap over the shoulder and/or across the body to hold items. During the mid-20th century, these items were typically made of leather and used as a way for women to carry their personal belongings. Today, a pocketbook is a women’s handbag.

What's the difference between a Pocketbook and a Purse?

Really, what is the difference? Depending on who you ask, it is like most great debates. The difference appears to be a word choice variation as opposed to an actual bag variation in different generations and regions. Depending on the size of the bag, pocketbook and purse are different things.

Still, others use the terms depending on the time of day.

Unsure yet? It needs to be broken down. The Northeast and Southeast regions of the United States have the most usage of pocketbooks. While, purse is the most common term across the West, Southwest, and Midwest. Outside of the United States, pocketbook is not used often.

By Region

There are always exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, the Northeast and Southeast regions of the United States offer the most usage of the term pocketbook. Meanwhile, purse remains the more common term across the West, Southwest, and Midwest. Interestingly, outside of the United States, pocketbook is not a term often if ever used.

By Generation

According to official language research, the use of the word pocketbook and purse is spread evenly across generations, while the general consensus on forums is that it's a more old fashioned term. It doesn't mean that a word is not regularly used. Many actually like the word because of its old-timey, classic feel. Younger generations favor the words "purse" or "bag."

By Time of Day

Some women call their day and evening bags purses. It's possible that both words can be used in the same bag. "I'll just pick up my purse."

By Size

The pocketbook and purse debate gets confusing at this point. The size difference between a pocketbook and a purse will be different depending on who you ask. A pocketbook, then, is a bag in which to carry your purse because some will say a purse is small and used for carrying bills. According to many others, a pocketbook is smaller than a purse and used more as a wallet or clutch. A bag large enough to carry your pocketbook is a purse.

Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer to the pocketbook question. You'll be correct either way if you use the term that you prefer. If you want, you can call our leather pocketbooks purses whatever you want.


The Evolving Purse

A bag that can be worn over the shoulder is described in a purse. Personal items such as money, makeup, phones, and keys can be carried in purses. Old English purse, also known as Middle English purse and pusa, is the term that comes from it.

pocketbook or a purse
pocketbook or a purse

The history of the (term) purse.

In Britain, the word purse is still used to refer to a small bag for storing coins. Bigger bags are called bigger bags in the United Kingdom. The purse vs handbag dispute is more difficult in American English because some people think the word purse is outdated, while others think the words are interchangeable.

Place Differences

The purse is often used in the West, Southwest and Midwest. The Northeast and Southeast parts of the US use the term pocketbook. Depending on the time of day, some people choose which word to use. Some women call their day bag a handbag and night bag a purse.

The Ever Changing Handbag

Louis Vuitton began to make bags similar to small suitcases at the end of the nineteenth century. These bags were the first of their kind. The bags had sturdy handles, plenty of internal pockets and compartments for storage and organization, and a snap closing. If you want to be more respected in the fashion community, you'll probably want to stay away from the term purse and go with the more respected word. Many have dubbed the p-word old-fashioned because it is essentially interchangeable. A good rule of thumb is to call it a handbag when you're trying to come off as more fashion forward.

The term handbag refers to higher-end bags, so think of it as a more sophisticated word. The bag a celebrity is wearing isn't a purse, according to most people.

The good old Pocketbook

Society has thrown another word at us as if the handbag vs purse debate wasn't complicated enough. What is the difference between a pocketbook and a handbag? Most dictionaries define a pocketbook as just a woman's handbag, but there are several ways you can differentiate between them. A bag larger than a purse and smaller than a handbag is referred to as a pocketbook. It's mostly used in the United States, but is popular in the Northeast and Southeast. Others don't use this term. Older generations tend to use the term pocketbook more often.

A small book that can fit in a pocket is referred to as a pocketbook. The leather folder that was used to carry money, checks, bills, notes and important documents is what the term evolved into. In the 19th century people began to refer to large shoulder bags as pocketbooks.

It's a good idea to keep a few basic rules in mind when choosing a purse or handbag. Handbag is more accepted in the high fashion community. People will think of a small bag as outdated if you use the word purse.

Difference between a Purse and a Handbag

Now we have talked about a pocketbook.

There is a constant debate about when to use a purse or handbag. The term purse was first used to mean a small bag that held money. The word handbag has appeared in society's vocabulary, and is now the primary term used to describe a bag women carry on their shoulder.

There is a difference between a purse and a handbag. A purse is a bag that can be carried over your shoulder or across the body, while a handbag is a bag that is usually carried across the body.

A handbag is a purse with a handle, whereas a purse is a small bag that can be carried on one’s shoulder. The difference between the two is that a handbag has a handle. A handbag can be used for carrying items such as keys, cards, and money. A handbag is also known as a tote or a clutch.

Purse, handbag or pouch

A small bag for holding coins is what the term "purse" originally referred to. It's still used to refer to a small money bag in English-speaking countries. A "handbag" is a larger accessory that holds items beyond currency. The term purse and handbag is used interchangeably by American English. The term handbag began to be used in the early 1900s. Men's hand-luggage was the first thing it was used to refer to. The term was attached to the accessory as women's bags grew larger and more complicated.

The term "pocketbook" was used for a woman's handbag on the East Coast of the United States.

What are the differences between a purse, Clutch and Handbag?

The number of items you'll need to have on hand and the activities you'll do when carrying it are some of the things that affect the choice of whether or not to carry a clutch. You can bring everything you need in a handbag, but they're usually roomier. If you are going to be out for a long period of time, a handbag is an excellent choice.

A clutch carries only essential items. If you need to have your hands free, you will also want to think about that. A thin strap can be found in some clutches, but a handbag has a strap for ease of carrying.

It's a good idea to consider if you need to set your bag down. A handbag can be placed on the floor, hung over a chair or set on a hook. A table is where a clutch needs to be held. Today's clutches can be used during the day for a variety of uses.


Heading on. The words "pocket" and "purse" are unrelated, but they are related. The Old French "poche" gave us "poke," a large sack, as well as both "pocket" and "pouch."

The Latin word for animal hide, leather and money bag is "bursar," meaning an official in charge of funds at aninstitution. The change of the initial "b" to a "p" was likely influenced by the Old English word "pusa," from Germanic roots, also meaning "bag." When "purse" first appeared in Old English, it meant a small.

The amount of money at stake in a horse race or the sum of one's personal wealth are some of the meanings of "Purse". The phrase "to purse one's lips" means to press them tightly together, and it was common for the larger handbag carried by in the US of the mid-1950s.

It wasn't until the early 19th century that "pocketbook" was used to mean a large purse carried by women and filled with various necessities.

In the US, "pocketbook" for a large purse is more popular than "purse" in terms of usage. The ungainly term "handbag," commonly found in advertising, news stories and police blotters, is not very popular among women.

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