I could tell you about Christmas, but you know all about that, it’s happening where you are too. Instead, I’ll tell you about words.
First a quickie: Funky is a positive in Ireland and the UK. It means trendy, cool, groovy. As in, “Your eyeshadow is really funky.”
Don’t say this to Americans, on the other hand, because they will take it badly. While the musical meaning of funky still stands, so you can talk about a funky beat (or Uptown Funk), in general, “funky” means nasty, as if smelling of old socks or cheese, perhaps. Or wonky, askew, off kilter.
And then, purses. It occurred to me recently, when I left my handbag behind at a PTA meeting and had to run back in to get it, that I still didn’t comfortably know what to call it when telling the board member I was walking with where I was off to so hastily. So I polled my Facebook friends and the results were … complex.
In Ireland, the bag a woman keeps her stuff in is her handbag. This is a generic term used no matter what shape or size the bag is, though we might also refer to a clutch (if it’s very small, without handles).
To me, a purse is what you keep your money in if you don’t use a wallet. It’s what in America would be called a coin purse.
In the US, several terms are used for the bag a woman keeps her stuff in. The country seems to be split between those who say purse for this and those who say bag, with a few still saying pocketbook (though this was generally held to be a somewhat dated term).
Many felt that a handbag would be specifically a large bag with handles, the sort of thing the Queen would carry, or Margaret Thatcher. (Or Lady Bracknell, of course. Bonus points for Wilde fans.)
Even more interestingly, a pocketbook is either a man’s wallet (or billfold) or a woman’s handbag. Properly, it is a specific type of handbag, the small sort that folds over, with a clasp.
Like this, maybe:
While finding the pictures I learned that Zappos uses “handbag” for all styles of smaller bag (within the overall “Bag” category that would include luggage, briefcases, and lunch bags, to name a few). But my definitions are based on extensive research (ahem) of real people in different parts of the US.
Go on, what do you say?