What Do You Call…

a) the thing a person keeps their cash in
b) the thing a person keeps coins in
c) the thing a person keeps the aforementioned things in

and do these terms vary depending on the gender of the person in question?

Public Purse Melbourne

Myself, I call them
a) a wallet (or possibly a purse, if it is basically a little bag with a fastening, as in picture above);
b) a purse (also as in picture above);
c) a bag, bilum or handbag.

I tend to avoid the words purse and handbag when referring to men’s accoutrements, since some consider those words apply only to women’s accoutrements and become uncomfortable and/or offended. And if I’m going to make people uncomfortable and/or offended, I’d rather it was intentional.

4 Replies to “What Do You Call…”

  1. Carrying cash, so we’re talking notes. I tend to call it a wallet if it’s essentially flat and folded, a purse if it’s clasped along one side. I would use wallet for either gender, purse just for women so far, but I haven’t yet seen a man using what I call a purse. Purses also have a sub-category.
    If it is just coins then a coin purse. In my head, the picture on this blog is a coin purse. This term is applied to either gender. For some reason the word ‘coin’ before it, makes it okay to use the term ‘purse’ in regards to something a man can carry.
    The third one depends entire on what kind of object they’re being carried in. Bag is a catch all term. But satchel for one shoulder strap bags that include extra inner or outer pockets. Tote for one or two shoulder strap bags that are just that and nothing else.. Handbag for a bag with either one or two handles that are too small to sling over the shoulder and necessitate being carried in the hand (I hate that!),and made of flexible fabric. Most of these have bodies are at least as wide as they are deep, the only bags that fit the ‘handbag’ definition but that are deeper than they are wide are plastic disposable bags, such as supermarket bags, which are a different breed entirely.
    Both genders have satchels and totes, I use handbags to refer only to women’s, if something that would otherwise be a handbag but is made of rigid materials, it is a case. If big enough to fit documents and rectangular, then it is a brief case.
    These are all conventional designs. Someone could probably design a bag that merged these characteristics.

    1. Interesting! That’s pretty close to what I’d say in many cases (though I don’t think I’ve ever called something a tote).
      However, I would still call something a handbag if it had a shoulder strap (casting etymology to the winds) and I think I’d still call it a handbag regardless of rigidity. Unless it was a briefcase…
      My mind has officially ground to a halt at the idea of supermarket bags meeting the definition of a handbag… but you’re right. Meets definition but still isn’t!

    2. I tend to think of a purse as a bag-like object with a clasp on one side which may be the size of a large wallet (generally used by women) or smaller like the one pictured in the article, in which case I would also call it a coin-purse. I wouldn’t expect a male to have an issue with me calling their clasped-bag-for-coins a coin-purse because … maybe because it is the coins’ purse, rather than his?

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