views updated May 23 2018

purse / pərs/ • n. a small bag used esp. by a woman to carry everyday personal items. ∎  a small pouch of leather or plastic used for carrying money, typically by a woman. ∎  the money possessed or available to a person or country: institutions are funded from the same general purse. ∎  a sum of money given as a prize in a sporting contest, esp. a boxing match.• v. (with reference to the lips) pucker or contract, typically to express disapproval or irritation: [tr.] Marianne took a glance at her reflection and pursed her lips disgustedly | [intr.] under stress his lips would purse slightly. PHRASES: hold the purse strings have control of expenditure.tighten (or loosen) the purse strings restrict (or increase) the amount of money available to be spent.ORIGIN: late Old English, alteration of late Latin bursa ‘purse,’ from Greek bursa ‘hide, leather.’ The current verb sense (from the notion of drawing purse strings) dates from the early 17th cent.


views updated May 11 2018

purse a purse is the emblem of St Antoninus of Florence (389–1459), who as a Christian moralist taught that money invested in commerce was true capital, and that therefore interest could be claimed on it without the sin of usury, St Lawrence, and St John the Almsgiver (fl. c.620), patriarch of Alexandria.
hold the purse strings have control of expenditure.

See also you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.


views updated May 18 2018

purse money-bag of leather, etc. OE. purs — late L. bursa (whence also (O)F. bourse), var. of byrsa — Gr. búrsa leather, bag (cf. BURSAR).
Hence purse vb. pocket XIV; wrinkle XVII. purser † maker of purses; purse-bearer, treasurer, esp. ship's officer who keeps the accounts and provisions. XV.