from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A usually closable bag used for carrying keys, a wallet, and other personal items, especially by women; a handbag.
  • noun A usually closable small bag or pouch for carrying money.
  • noun Something that resembles a bag or pouch, such as a purse seine.
  • noun An available amount of money or resources.
  • noun A sum of money collected as a present or offered as a prize.
  • transitive verb To gather or contract (the lips or brow) into wrinkles or folds; pucker.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To put in a purse.
  • To contract into folds or wrinkles; knit; pucker: frequently with up.
  • To take purses; rob.
  • noun A bag or pouch; specifically, a small bag or case in which money is contained or carried.
  • noun Figuratively, money; means; resources.
  • noun A treasury; finances: as, to exhaust a nation's purse, or the public purse.
  • noun 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.
  • noun A specific sum of money.
  • noun In zoology and anatomy, some kind of a pouch, bursa, marsupium, or ovicapsule.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To put into a purse.
  • transitive verb To draw up or contract into folds or wrinkles, like the mouth of a purse; to pucker; to knit.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Hence, a treasury; finances.
  • noun A sum of money offered as a prize, or collected as a present
  • noun A specific sum of money.
  • noun In Turkey, the sum of 500 piasters.
  • noun In Persia, the sum of 50 tomans.
  • noun poverty or want of resources.
  • noun wealth; riches.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any land crab of the genus Birgus, allied to the hermit crabs. They sometimes weigh twenty pounds or more, and are very strong, being able to crack cocoanuts with the large claw. They chiefly inhabit the tropical islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, living in holes and feeding upon fruit. Called also palm crab.
  • noun a fishing net, the mouth of which may be closed or drawn together like a purse.
  • noun pride of money; insolence proceeding from the possession of wealth.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Pocket gopher, under Pocket.
  • noun the military power and financial resources of a nation.
  • intransitive verb Obs. & R. To steal purses; to rob.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin bursa; see bursa.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old English purs ("purse"), partly from Old English pusa ("wallet, bag, scrip"), and partly from Old English burse ("pouch, bag").


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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