from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A woman's bag for carrying keys, a wallet, and other personal items; a handbag.
  • n. A small bag or pouch for carrying money.
  • n. Something that resembles a bag or pouch.
  • n. Available wealth or resources; money.
  • n. A sum of money collected as a present or offered as a prize.
  • transitive v. To gather or contract (the lips or brow) into wrinkles or folds; pucker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small bag for carrying money.
  • n. A handbag (small bag usually used by women for carrying various small personal items)
  • n. A quantity of money given for a particular purpose.
  • v. To press (one's lips) in and together so that they protrude.
  • v. To steal purses; to rob.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small bag or pouch, the opening of which is made to draw together closely, used to carry money in; by extension, any receptacle for money carried on the person; a wallet; a pocketbook; a portemonnaie.
  • n. Hence, a treasury; finances.
  • n. A sum of money offered as a prize, or collected as a present
  • n. A specific sum of money.
  • n. In Turkey, the sum of 500 piasters.
  • n. In Persia, the sum of 50 tomans.
  • intransitive v. To steal purses; to rob.
  • transitive v. To put into a purse.
  • transitive v. To draw up or contract into folds or wrinkles, like the mouth of a purse; to pucker; to knit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To put in a purse.
  • To contract into folds or wrinkles; knit; pucker: frequently with up.
  • To take purses; rob.
  • n. A bag or pouch; specifically, a small bag or case in which money is contained or carried.
  • n. Figuratively, money; means; resources.
  • n. A treasury; finances: as, to exhaust a nation's purse, or the public purse.
  • n. A purseful of money; a sum of money offered as a prize or collected as a present: as, to win the purse in a horse-race; to make up a purse as a present.
  • n. A specific sum of money.
  • n. In zoology and anatomy, some kind of a pouch, bursa, marsupium, or ovicapsule.
  • n. An officer of the British royal household charged with the payment of the sovereign's private expenses. His official title is keeper of the privy purse.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a sum of money spoken of as the contents of a money purse
  • v. contract one's lips into a rounded shape
  • n. a sum of money offered as a prize
  • n. a container used for carrying money and small personal items or accessories (especially by women)
  • n. a small bag for carrying money
  • v. gather or contract into wrinkles or folds; pucker


Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin bursa; see bursa.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English purs ("purse"), partly from Old English pusa ("wallet, bag, scrip"), and partly from Old English burse ("pouch, bag"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "The winner's share of any purse was hung in a sack near the finish line, and after the deciding heat the winning driver would steer his horse back there, dismount, and remove it to varying levels of applause. The custom is no more, but turf journalists still write about a horseman or horse 'taking down' the purse money at a particular race."
    —Charles Leerhsen, Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch (New York and London: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 76

    October 23, 2008