What Is The Difference Between A Purse And A Handbag?

Women use bags to carry their belongings with them. The terms purse and handbag both refer to a bag that allows women to keep their girly stuff with them including money, cosmetics, keys, etc. These terms are used interchangeably all around the globe to such an extent that the distinction between the two has blurred. Both are used majorly for the same purpose by women which is to hold and carry their belongings. But being used interchangeably doesn’t mean that they both hold the same bag. A purse and a handbag are two different bags and women carry bags that need to be distinguished.

The difference between these terms is also subject to countries and their prevalent cultural trend. In the UK you will find people having a clear distinction between a purse and a handbag. Whereas in the US the distinction between these two terms is quite unclear that confuses people.

If you want to buy a bag in the US and are confused if to ask the shopkeeper for a purse or a handbag then this guide is for you. This will help you understand the difference between these two and settle this debate once and for all.

difference between a Purse and a Handbag-Handbag

Difference between a Purse and a Handbag

After going through this article you will be able to know which one is a purse and which one is a handbag. So, gear up to find out if you have more handbags in your collection or purses.

The dictionary difference

To start up the difference in meanings debate, what other source can be better than a dictionary? The dictionary defines a purse as a women small bag that is used to carry money whereas it defines a handbag as a small women’s bag used to carry personal belongings and small items.

These definitions show that a purse is a bag small enough to contain only money whereas a handbag can be used to carry additional female belongings along with money.

Leather Purse for Women

History and evolution

If we dig into history then we see that the term purse goes back a long way in comparison to the handbag. Women carrying bags were initially referred to as purses. To your surprise, the concept of the purse was not to look stylish or fashionable. Rather it was introduced as a pocket that women could carry while keeping their money inside. In the initial days, women used to wear these purses underneath their skirts and they were considered an item of undergarment. These purses were not a visible part of attire and hence were quite simple.

But with time the purses witnessed evolution. Initially designed to hold only money, the purses evolved into a larger design that could carry more belongings other than money and looked aesthetically pleasing as well. These bags were designed by luggage bag manufacturers as smaller suitcases to offer customers an adequately sized bag to keep their extremely useful belongings. These bags had multiple small compartments to hold belongings and easy-to-carry handles to allow people to carry essential belongings (when they are not traveling and don’t need suitcases). This evolved or new design was referred to as a handbag. These handbags become a status symbol and a must-wear item to complete the look. Instead of wearing them beneath their clothes, the women started to carry these purses and now introduced handbags in their hands. This is why manufacturers start designing these bags into elegant shapes and aesthetic color schemes. Luckily whether you call it a purse or handbag now it goes with literally every attire and adds style to your personality. Now, these purses and handbags are available in a variety of colors and shapes to choose from. If you like to match the purse or handbag with your outfit then it is no more an issue.

Coming back to the point, these handbags were made with a mindset to devise a bag that has more holding capacity as compared to a purse. So, we can see that in older times they use to call it a purse, and with time evolution brings us to a handbag. But still, it is not only about the older and newer times. The distinction between the two is quite obvious. A bag that is used to carry only money is called a purse whereas a bag that is used to hold useful belongings including money is called a handbag.

These older and newer terms are also used as per the generation familiarity. If you are from gen Z then you might want to go with the term handbag as saying a purse seems out of trend and not fashionable.

Leather Handbags for Women

Usage Difference

A purse and handbag differ in the way they are used. A purse is used to mainly carry money and other smaller-sized belongings like cell phones, cards, etc. whereas a handbag is used to carry more stuff that you can keep in a purse including your keys, money, cards, essential ID documents, cosmetics, cell phone, charger, etc.

Difference in internal design

The internal design is another factor that differentiates a purse from a handbag. Usually, a purse is made such that it has no compartments, while some purses have a small flat zipped pocket to keep coins. Overall from inside a purse is one bag where all your belongings are kept side by side. In comparison, a handbag has compartments inside. These compartments offer a good space to keep your belongings separate and organized. These compartments are needed especially if you want to keep your belongings separate from one another. For instance, you might want to keep your keys away from your cell phone to protect the cell phone casing or screen from the possibility of getting scratched.

Leather Purse-Purple

Difference in size

The bottom line is the difference in size that distinguishes a bag from a handbag. A handbag is larger as compared to a purse. To put it simply you can put your purse in a handbag while you cannot put your handbag into your purse.