pocketbook / purse / handbag

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pocketbook / purse / handbag

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Aug 21, 2004 7:41 am

How did american women's handbags become known as a pocketbooks?

Karen, England

I saw an interesting comment on another forum to the effect that in the fashion industry there must be many words for "purse/handbag/pocketbook/" Does anyone here have any additions to the list?

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I am searching for the origin of the word "pocketbook". I am interested in the purse origin not the reading material.

pattymistler
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Aug 21, 2004 7:56 am

Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins

POCKETBOOK: Today’s ladies ‘pocketbooks’ could never fit into any conceivable pocket and don’t at all resemble books. Still, that’s what the original ‘pocketbook’ did—back around 1800. They were men’s purses, for most part, containing two or more compartments with hinged openings that were held together, when the purse was closed, by a clasp at the top. When open, the purse could, to an imaginative fellow, have something of the appearance of an open book. When closed, the purse was fitted into the owner’s pocket. Hence, ‘pocketbook.’ Incidentally , the British suffer no such confusion. To them a ‘pocket book’ is a pocket diary or memorandum book. An Englishman keeps his money and credit cards in his wallet or purse.
______________________

Ken G – February 27, 2003
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:10 am

To which I will only add that in Britain, a purse is generally a smallish bag used by women for notes and coins, usually has no shoulder strap, and is typically kept in a handbag - the item generally referred to in the US as a (you've guessed it) purse.
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:25 am

Word History: The link between the senses “billfold, purse,” and “pocket-sized book” of the word _pocketbook_ can be clarified with a little historical information. The compound is first recorded in 1617 in the sense of “a small book designed to be carried in a pocket.” It is only recently that such books have looked like the paperbound books we are familiar with; these early paperbacks were bound like any book but were smaller in size. The next recorded use of _pocketbook_ (1685) is again for a book designed to fit in the pocket but this time used for notes or memoranda. The same word was then applied to a case that was shaped like a book and in which money or papers could be kept. Finally, the word _pocketbook_ was transferred to yet another container for keeping things, a purse or handbag, rarely fitting in the pocket and not necessarily shaped like a book.

From _The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition_, (1992)

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Two methodist preachers were lately robbed of the pocket-books, containing very considerable sums in bank notes. (_Niles' Register_, 1816)

Susumu, Japan, March 1, 2003
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:53 am

In addition, http://www.thesaurus.com gives the following:

Entry: handbag
Function: noun
Definition: carryall
Synonyms: backpack, bag, clutch, grip, hide, knapsack, leather, pocketbook, portmanteau, purse, reticule
Concept: merchandise
Source: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.0)
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Entry: bag
Function: noun
Definition: container
Synonyms: attache, backpack, briefcase, carry-on, carryall, case, diddie, duffel, gear, grub-bag, handbag, haversack, holdall, kit, knapsack, pack, packet, pocket, pocketbook, poke, pouch, purse, rucksack, sac, sack, saddlebag, satchel, suitcase, tote
Concept: container
Source: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.0)
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Entry: pocketbook
Function: noun
Definition: accessory
Synonyms: bag, clutch, frame, handbag, hide, leather, pouch, purse, reticule, suitcase, wallet
Concept: clothing
Source: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.0)
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Entry: purse
Function: noun
Definition: tote
Synonyms: bag, billfold, bursa, carryall, clutch, frame, handbag, hide, leather, lizard, moneybag, pocket, pocketbook, poke, pouch, receptacle, reticule, sack, wallet
Concept: clothing
Source: Roget's Interactive Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.0)
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England )
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Aug 21, 2004 9:08 am

To whoever submitted this question, I hadn't thought much of this question, but I would be that you're right. Just as we have sandals and clogs and Mary Janes and spectator pumps, there have to be lots of works for purses, but I can't seem to come up with many. There's the clutch, tote bag, slouch--but surely fashion mavens distinguish between purses that close at the top and those that have an overlapping flap, and other differences. I'll have to look into this. (I have a collection of purses, which swelled by four new ones this holiday season--including one made from juice boxes.)

Lois, January 2
Reply from Lois Martin (Birmingham, AL - U.S.A.)
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Post by Bobinwales » Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:04 am

What is a Mary-Jane? I asked M-W, it didn't know either but offered me "marijuana" as an option. And whilst we are on the subject, nor have I heard of spectator pumps.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:59 am

Bob,

Mary Janes are a kind of closed-toed, round-nosed sandal that schoolgirls in pre-sneaker days used to wear until they reached pre-pubescence. It is typical for dolls that are marketed to younger children to be initially wearing Mary Janes.

Now, as for spectator pumps, I have never seen those. Nor have I previously heard of audience pumps.
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pocketbook / purse / handbag

Post by russcable » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:49 pm

A mary jane is not usually a sandal (although they can be). The distinguishing feature of a mary jane is the open instep with a strap over the front of the ankle and is usually worn with short white socks that fold over above the ankle and have a decorative edge. The name comes from the turn-of-the-century comic artist Richard Felton Outcault and his strip about Buster Brown, his sister Mary Jane, and their dog Tige - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buster_Brown .
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Post by Bobinwales » Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:46 pm

Right, between Erik and Russ I know what shoes we are talking about, but no-one I have spoken to remembers what they called them. I can remember "dolly shoes", which were the same style with a button on the side that looked like a dolls eye, but we all recall a buckled variety, and one with a T Bar, but no names as yet. I've got the girls on the job, watch this space.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:58 pm

Bob, Also see
Mary Jane shoes and
pumps (the shoes) / spectator pumps
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Ken G - April 15, 2005
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