What Is the Difference between a Handbag and a Purse?

A handbag and a purse both serve the same primary purpose: to store the usual girly things such as a wallet, house and car keys, makeup, a mirror, a brush or comb, a bottle of perfume, a smartphone, etc.

However, a lot of women see the terms “handbag” and “purse” as interchangeable words. In other words, a handbag and a purse are precisely the same things.

When you want to buy “some bag,” lots of doubts will cross your mind. If the different colors, sizes, designs, and brands will cloud your decision-making, they are a given. It may be stereotypical, but choice paralysis is more common among women who cannot decide at once which type of clothes, bags, or shoes they wish to buy once they pass at a chic boutique.

Anyway, now there’s another nagging question: which type of bag do you need? “Is it going to be a purse or a handbag? They are the same, right?” Maybe. Or maybe not. This article probes for any significant difference between two of the essential female items.

Handbag – According to Cambridge Dictionary, a “handbag” is defined as:

  • “A bag, often with a handle or strap going over the shoulder, used especially by women for carrying money, keys, and small personal items such as makeup.”
  • “Purse.”

Purse – Cambridge Dictionary defines a purse as:

  • “A bag, often with a handle or strap going over the shoulder, used especially by women for carrying money, keys, and small personal items such as makeup.”
  • “A pocketbook.”

It means that a handbag and a purse, at least according to Cambridge Dictionary, are one and the same. So, what’s the catch?

Digging a bit deeper into the definitions between a purse and a handbag, “purse” is an older term that refers to a small bag for holding coins. Purses can also be called “wallets.” Wallets usually carry certain items like some bills, an ATM or credit card, or a government or company ID, a driver’s license, etc. Many wallets feature an external zipper pocket for holding coins.

A handbag is a newer term that refers to a bigger accessory which holds not just money, but other items that can fit into it. You can store and carry keys, mobile phones, makeup, a bottle of perfume, etc. in a handbag.

People in several English-speaking countries still call a small money bag as a “purse.” It’s only Americans who use the words “handbag” and “purse” interchangeably. Here’s a handy tip if you plan to shop for accessories abroad: avoid referring to a handbag as a “purse” or else someone will hand you a stern warning!

Here’s the clearer and more straightforward difference between a handbag and a purse: you can put a purse inside a handbag, but you obviously cannot put a handbag inside a purse!

Here are some of the beautiful, fashionable but reasonably-priced handbags and purses that you should really check out:


Where to Buy
Kate Spade New York Women's Cameron Convertible Crossbody Bag
Tommy Hilfiger Women's Handbag Jaden Satchel
Michael Kors Kimberly Small Satchel Handbag Crossbody Bag
YNIQUE Satchel Purses and Handbags for Women Shoulder Tote Bags Wallets
Nautica Money Manager RFID Women's Wallet Clutch Organizer (Ribbon Stripe)
SHILFID coin purse pink
Small Coin Purse, Selizo 10 Pcs Small Canvas Purse Zipper Change Purse Small Zipper Pouch
Cute Floral Buckle Coin Purses Vintage Pouch Kiss-lock Change Purse Wallets



1) Kate Spade New York Women’s Cameron Convertible Crossbody Bag

This beautiful and stylish Kate Spade handbag offers lots of storage, including a rear slip pocket, to store your essentials. This versatile handbag has adjustable straps so that you can use it as a regular handbag, a shoulder bag, or a crossbody bag. It also features a magnetic flap front closure for easy closing and opening. The price depends on the color and design.

2) Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Handbag Jaden

If your style tends to have a mix of the classic, casual and even sporty, this Tommy Hilfiger handbag will be right up your alley! It is made of PVC leather which offers durability and water resistance, a textile lining inside, and a zipper closure. It has ample storage where you can put all the things you need to take. The design makes this bag suitable for various occasions and can go along with any preferred clothing style. The price depends on the color and design.

3) Michael Kors Kimberly Small Satchel Handbag Crossbody Bag

This small-scale Michael Kors handbag is surprisingly roomy – it has a lot of compartments to fill in your essential female items, and then some! This lovely leather bag features a central slip zipper pocket for extra storage and security. You can use it as a regular handbag or a shoulder bag, whichever you prefer. The price depends on the color.

4) Ynique Satchel Purses and Handbags

You won’t have any trouble in telling the difference between a handbag and a purse, because these bags will tell you so! This lovely handbag-and-purse combo is made of polyurethane “leather,” and it comes in a variety of colors, designs, and patterns; some types also come with a third crossbody handbag. These stylish but affordable handbags and purses prove that being fashionable doesn’t have to go with a price!


1) Nautica Money Manager RFID Women’s Wallet Clutch Organizer (Ribbon Stripe)

This looks of this Nautica purse looks cute and simple, but it has some tricks up its sleeve… or pouch! It has the embedded RFID chip, which protects your purse or wallet from theft and electronic pickpocketing. It protects your credit and debit cards, ID’s, driver’s license, and any other RFID-enabled cards.

2) Shilfid Coin Purse Pink

Sometimes, you need to keep things simple and organized inside your handbag. Rather than rummaging all the coins scattered inside your bag, you can place them all in this simple pink coin purse from Shilfid. However simple it looks, this construction and material of this coin purse are of high quality. It is a handcrafted coin purse made of sturdy spring frame and genuine leather, which makes it durable and truly designed for long-lasting use.

3) Selizo Small Coin Purse, 10 Pieces

This set consists of ten canvas coin purses that come in different colors and cute designs. Aside from coins, these coin purses can hold other essential things and accessories such as your keys, pieces of jewelry, lipstick, lip balm, phone charger cords, hair rubber bands, and a lot more.

4) Sanxiner Floral Buckle Coin Purse

This classic clasp kiss-lock closure coin purse has a vintage style, which makes it suitable for women with mature fashion tastes. This high-quality canvas coin purse comes in different colors and floral designs and is a great accessory to carry for many occasions.