wallet / billfold

Discussion in 'English Only' started by pelouche, May 23, 2006.

  1. pelouche New Member


    I have a question for native speakers and fluent English-speakers.

    Which is the difference between "wallet" and "billfold"?

    Thank you very much for your help

  2. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    A billfold is a kind of wallet carried by a man that folds over. It is very simple in design. There are other types of wallets that do not fold over such as the large ones with pockets and sections for change that many women carry in their purses.
  3. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I think that they are essentially the same thing.

    I have always associated "billfold" with American English.

    Americans call their paper money bills, (despite having clearly written on them Federal Reserve Note).

    A billfold is something to put your dollar bills into.

    Since paper money in English speaking countries outside north America is usually called notes, the word billfold is not used.

    Wallet can also mean a larger holder for papers, often big enough to carry around A4 size documents.
  4. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    According to the Oxford dictionary:

    noun N. Amer. a wallet.

    noun 1 a pocket-sized, flat, folding holder for money and plastic cards. 2 archaic a bag for holding provisions when travelling.
  5. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    In the US, not all wallets are flat and/or folding. I also don't think that women's wallets are ever called billfolds. That's why I would say that a billfold is a type of wallet.
  6. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
    Hi -
    The word 'billfold" is old-fashioned & not used by many people, certainly no one under 30. Most people I know, both men & women, use the word wallet even if their "money holding device" is technically a billfold. I don't think many people would be able to describe the difference between a billfold and a wallet. We don't use the larger sized "wallet" as described by Brioche. Instead, many women (and some men) carry small filofaxes or datebooks that have inner pockets for money & loose papers - fancy leathers or hi tech styles are preferred, or designer logos.

  7. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    That's true. No one is going to say: I left my billfold at home. I do think the term is falling into disuse.

    But if you were to go buy a wallet, the store might still distinguish between regular wallets and billfolds.
  8. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
    Yes, you are right. In an elegant store or a leather-goods boutique the sales clerk would know the difference and ask which you prefer.
  9. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    Hello and welcome, pelouche.
    I've changed your thread title to make it easier to find in a search. Please refer to rule #4.
    Thank you.
  10. daviesri Senior Member

    Houston, TX
    USA English
    I would say that all billfolds are wallets but not all wallets are billfolds. A billfold is just a wallet that folds in half (basically it folds the money (bills) in half when closed). A billfold is usually carried by men because it folds neatly and fits in your back pocket.
  11. pelouche New Member

    Thank you very much you all,

    I really appreciated!

    Actually, the reason why I need this explication is because I need to prepare a catalogue for a leather-good brand. I think I have enough elements now to take a decision.

    Thanks a lot

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