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Pocketbook vs. Wallet — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 5, 2024
Pocketbooks typically refer to small, portable books or diaries, whereas wallets are designed to carry personal items like cash and cards.
Pocketbook vs. Wallet — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Pocketbook and Wallet


Key Differences

A pocketbook is often used interchangeably to describe a small bag or purse used primarily by women for carrying everyday items such as money and personal items, while a wallet is specifically designed to be a small, flat case that men and women use to carry personal items such as cash, credit cards, and identification documents.
Pocketbooks may come in various designs, sizes, and materials, serving as a fashion accessory as well as a functional item, whereas wallets are generally designed for practicality and compactness, often fitting comfortably in a pocket.
The term "pocketbook" has evolved over time and can also refer to a book that is small enough to fit in one's pocket, on the other hand, a wallet remains consistent in its definition and usage as a holder for personal and financial essentials.
While pocketbooks can include features like straps or handles and may double as a small handbag, wallets typically do not have straps and are designed to be carried inside a pocket or a larger bag.
In terms of security, modern wallets often incorporate materials or technologies that block RFID scanning, offering protection against electronic theft, while pocketbooks may not generally include these protective features unless they are specifically designed as anti-theft items.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Carrying everyday items and books
Carrying cash and cards

Size and Shape

Varies, generally larger
Small, flat

Gender Association

Often associated with women
Used by both men and women

Security Features

Less common
Often includes RFID-blocking materials

Design Variability

High (can also be a fashion accessory)
Low (focused on functionality)

Compare with Definitions


Informal: A person’s available money; financial resources.
The expensive repairs took a significant chunk out of her pocketbook.


A small, flat case for carrying personal items such as cash and credit cards.
He pulled out a slim wallet to pay for dinner.


A small bag or purse used primarily by women.
She carried a leather pocketbook that matched her shoes.


Used to store identification documents alongside money.
Her wallet contained her driver's license and several credit cards.


A small notebook or diary that can fit in one’s pocket.
He jotted down his thoughts in a worn pocketbook.


May feature RFID-blocking technology to protect against data theft.
His wallet was equipped with RFID protection to safeguard his credit cards.


A case for holding papers, cards, or small notebooks.
Her pocketbook was filled with notes and reminders for the day.


Often made of leather or a similar durable material.
She preferred a fabric wallet to match her casual style.


A book small enough to be carried in a pocket.
The traveler always carried a pocketbook guide to translate basic phrases.


Can include compartments for coins, cash, and cards.
His new wallet had a separate compartment for coins.


A purse; a handbag.


A wallet is a small, flat case or pouch that can be used to carry such small personal items as paper currency, credit cards, and identification documents (driver's license, identification card, club card, etc.), photographs, transit pass, business cards and other paper or laminated cards. Wallets are generally made of leather or fabrics, and they are usually pocket-sized and foldable.


A pocket-sized folder or case used to hold money and papers; a billfold.


A flat pocket-sized folding case, usually made of leather, for holding paper money, cards, or photographs; a billfold.


Financial resources; money supply
Prices to fit your pocketbook.


A small case, often flat and often made of leather, for keeping money (especially paper money), credit cards, etc.
The thief stole all the money and credit cards out of the old man's wallet.


Often pocket book A pocket-sized, usually paperbound book. Also called pocket edition.


An e-wallet or digital wallet.


(US) a purse or handbag.


A thick case or folder with plastic sleeves in which compact discs may be stored.
I won an auction online for a cheap CD wallet.


(dated) A wallet for paper money.


(archaic) A bag or pouch.
He brought with him a large wallet with some provisions for the road.


(figuratively) One's personal budget or economic capacity - the amount one can afford.


(slang) A person's buttocks (the area of the body nearest where one keeps one's wallet).
He fell down and landed on his wallet.


(uncommon) A small book, particularly (US) a paperback or (UK) notebook able to fit into a pocket.
The publishers brought out small format pocketbooks of the whole of their nature series.


A bag or sack for carrying about the person, as a bag for carrying the necessaries for a journey; a knapsack; a beggar's receptacle for charity; a peddler's pack.
[His hood] was trussed up in his walet.


A small book or case for carrying papers, money, etc., in the pocket; also, a notebook for the pocket.


A pocketbook for keeping money about the person.


Your personal financial means;
That car is too expensive for my pocketbook


Anything protuberant and swagging.


A pocket-size case for holding papers and paper money


A pocket-size case for holding papers and paper money


Pocket-sized paperback book


A bag used for carrying money and small personal items or accessories (especially by women);
She reached into her bag and found a comb

Common Curiosities

What is a pocketbook used for?

A pocketbook is used for carrying personal items like money, cards, and sometimes small books or diaries.

Can a wallet be considered a fashion accessory?

While primarily functional, wallets can also be fashion accessories, especially designer wallets.

Do all pocketbooks come with straps?

Not all pocketbooks have straps; some are designed as clutches or folios.

What materials are wallets typically made from?

Wallets are commonly made from leather, synthetic materials, or fabrics that offer durability and security.

What kind of security features do modern wallets have?

Modern wallets may feature RFID-blocking technologies to protect personal information from electronic pickpocketing.

Is a pocketbook the same as a handbag?

A pocketbook can be a type of small handbag, but the term may also refer to a book or diary.

What are the typical contents of a pocketbook?

A pocketbook may contain personal items such as a phone, keys, money, and make-up.

Do wallets come in different styles?

Yes, wallets come in various styles including bifold, trifold, and money clip wallets.

How do men and women use wallets differently?

Both men and women use wallets to carry essentials, but men’s wallets are often designed to fit in a pocket, whereas women might carry them in a purse.

How can a wallet protect against RFID scanning?

Wallets with RFID-blocking material prevent RFID scanners from reading digital information on cards.

Are pocketbooks outdated?

While the term may seem outdated, pocketbooks remain popular as versatile accessories for carrying essentials.

What is the primary difference in the functionality of pocketbooks and wallets?

The primary difference lies in their use; pocketbooks are more versatile for carrying a variety of items, while wallets are specialized for financial essentials.

Can a pocketbook have technological features like wallets?

Some pocketbooks may incorporate technological features, though it is less common than in wallets.

What is the difference in size between a pocketbook and a wallet?

Pocketbooks are generally larger and can carry more items than the compact and flat design of wallets.

Why might someone choose a pocketbook over a wallet?

Someone might choose a pocketbook for its larger capacity and sometimes its stylish appearance.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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