Cross Body or Shoulder Messenger or Profile Bag vs Man Purse

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ilias.perea, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Dear all,

    what would you call a small bag (of size 22cm x 17cm x 10cm), made of leather, with interior and exterior pockets, with a detachable and adjustable shoulder strap, big enough to fit a small book and keep necessities organized and secure, but still not too big to eventually become very heavy? I am talking about something like this or this or even this one. Although the answer at first thought seems obvious, a new trend suggests the name Man Purse. Surprisingly (at least for me), wiktionary has an entry for manpurse. I should say that I already own one of these bags or "man purses"; however, when I referred to that as "purse" an AmE speaker corrected me by saying "hey, you can´t call this a purse since a purse is something that only women carry".
    Having read the discussions about the word "purse" in this forum, I get the impression that it is understood and used differently in AmE and BE.
    So, the question is (a) whether or not the term Man Purse is already in use and accepted and (b) if this is not case then what name is used in both AmE and BE for the article I described?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I can't think of a special name for the bag. In GB it wouldn't be called a man purse. I suppose if a bag goes over your shoulder like the ones you've shown, you can call it a shoulder-bag (no sexual implications). If it's bag a man holds in his hand, I'd call it a bag.
    As I understand it, a purse in AE is a woman's handbag. (Woman's handbag seemed to me to be a tautology anyway, as only women have handbags. To the extent that I can make a judgement as a British person, I agree with your American friend.) In BE a purse is similar in function to a man's wallet, although of a different design.
    (The little black bags men have in Germany would be regarded as effeminate in GB and there's no special word for them.
    School satchels, at least those that go over your shoulder rather than hang on your back like a rucksack, are making a bit of a comeback in GB. There's a firm which makes them. Some people use them for carrying their laptops.)
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  3. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    :thumbsup: The same on this side of the pond.
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    "Man purse" (and you may even hear "murse") is a joke name to make fun of men who carry such bags. I don't think any manufacturer is going to use that in their catalog. Wikitionary is user editable - you can see in the history that that entry was created by someone named "Dominic".
    "Cross body" just refers to the way the shoulder strap is designed to be worn.
    A messenger bag should be big enough to hold a normal-sized parcel containing papers that aren't folded like a bike messenger would carry.
    "Profile" on that one ad is part of "Slim Profile" which is just descriptive of how thick the bag is.
  5. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I've heard murse and man bag (but not "man purse"). No manufacturer/retailer would use those terms, though, because they're assumed to be deprecatory.

    A "messenger bag" should be longer than it is tall.

    I think your best bet here is "satchel." You could also fudge and call it, say, a "camera bag," or something else patently false but better than "small unisex bag." In the US, a small bag that's taller than it is wide would have to be very masculine - very boxy, very square, very matte - to be worn by anyone. In other words, the second bag you link to is really not unisex (much too feminine).
  6. rhitagawr

    rhitagawr Senior Member

    British English
    I've never heard the term messenger bag. Perhaps it's AE.
  7. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    One major problem I see is that we don't generally, as a society, deem these things as masculine or necessary to any "man".
    I've seen a lot more such "man purses" in Mediterranean areas (I noticed you are Greek, so this makes sense) than anywhere else I travel.

    As has been stated, "murse, man purse, and man bag" are all very familiar to me; however, they are used as jokes. If I told my friend that I liked his man purse, it would be very clear that sarcasm was in play. I cannot think of an accepted phrase to use that would not be anything more than humorous.
  8. I'd like to thank you all for contributing to this discussion.

    That's a good observation and remark. Indeed, these bags are becoming popular in this part of the world and there's nothing feminine about it. Rather, I find them very practical in terms of solving the problem of where to put all your stuff (keys, wallets, tissues, mobile phone, you name it).
  9. Hau Ruck

    Hau Ruck Senior Member

    United States - Midwest
    English - U.S.
    I find them to be just as useful. :) I wear a Nike one when I go kayaking (small, stylish and goes over the shoulder). Sadly, American society doesn't deem it very manly. Very often I'd find it useful in daily life, but fail to wear it due to the aforementioned. ;)

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