It took a while for me to figure out that a “purse” in American English refers to what I call a handbag. In British English, a purse is more of a wallet and that’s the meaning I’ve been accustomed to my whole life. So I carry a purse in my handbag, like you might say that you carry a wallet in your purse. You can imagine how funny it was when I first heard people saying that they like to fit a bottle of water in their purse. That’s one giant purse.

Wikipedia explains it well:

“In American English, a purse is a small bag, also called a handbag or a pocketbook.”

“In British English, a purse is a small money container similar to a wallet, but typically used by women and including a compartment for coins, with a handbag being considerably larger; indeed, a purse is often kept in a handbag.”

I have American friends that use the word handbag instead of purse, just like I do. Is it a regional thing, or is the word “purse” on the way out? Which word do you use?