Basic+ Word of the Day: purse

purse (noun) LISTEN

In the US, a purse is a handbag or pocketbook.

  • Maria carries her wallet, lipstick, keys and cell phone in her purse.

In the UK, a purse is a wallet or a place where you keep your money.

  • Jenny took out her purse to pay for the chocolates.

A purse can also be a small container for carrying money.

  • When Julia runs, she carries a few dollars in her change purse.

Don't confuse it with

Purse, handbag and pocketbook mean the same thing. Some people, depending on where they live and their age prefer one term or another. A wallet is a small container for carrying money, ID and credit cards. People often carry a wallet inside their purse.

Common uses

control the purse strings: to be in charge of deciding how money is spent for a family or organization. Example: “After Ted became ill, Irene controlled the purse strings in their family.”

Related words

You can purse your lips–literally form your lips in the shape of a purse. Do this if you want to whistle or kiss someone.

In pop culture

Here is a video of a young girl showing what is in her purse. Do you think she actually carries all these things?

There are other meanings of purse.

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