A handbag, commonly known as a purse in North American English, is a handled medium-to-large bag used to carry personal items.
The term “purse” originally referred to a small bag for holding coins. In many English-speaking countries, it is still used to refer to a small money bag. A “handbag” is a larger accessory that holds objects beyond currency, such as personal items. American English typically uses the terms purse and handbag interchangeably. The term handbag began appearing in the early 1900s. Initially, it was most often used to refer to men’s hand-luggage. Women’s bags grew larger and more complex during this period, and the term was attached to the accessory. “Pocketbook” is another term for a woman’s handbag that was most commonly used on the East Coast of the United States in the mid-twentieth century.