Ask Difference

Purse vs. Satchel — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 3, 2024
A purse is typically a small bag for holding money and personal items, while a satchel is a larger, flat bag with a shoulder strap.
Purse vs. Satchel — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Purse and Satchel


Key Differences

Purses are often small and designed primarily for carrying money and small personal items, emphasizing convenience and portability. They usually come with compartments for organization and are carried in hand or over the shoulder with a small strap. On the other hand, satchels offer more space and are designed to hold larger items like books and laptops. They are characterized by their flat bottom, flap cover, and cross-body strap, making them suitable for students and professionals.
While purses are often seen as a fashion statement and come in a variety of designs, materials, and sizes to match different outfits and occasions, satchels tend to have a more uniform look. Satchels are typically made of leather or canvas, giving them a classic, durable appeal suitable for both casual and formal settings. Whereas purses focus on aesthetics and functionality for personal belongings, satchels lean towards practicality and durability.
Purses are widely used by women and are considered a staple in women's fashion accessories. They range from casual to luxury brands, allowing for a broad expression of personal style. Satchels, in contrast, are for both genders and offer a versatile option for carrying essentials, appreciated for their practical design and ease of carrying over longer distances.
Satchels often feature a variety of compartments and pockets, including specialized sections for electronics, making them an ideal choice for students and professionals needing to organize and carry multiple items. Purses, while smaller, may also have organized compartments, but they prioritize ease of access to essentials like keys, phone, and wallet.
In terms of cultural perception, the purse is often viewed as a symbol of femininity and fashion-forwardness, deeply ingrained in the context of women's accessories. Satchels, however, have a more neutral image, associated with academic and professional settings, reflecting a focus on functionality over fashion.

Comparison Chart


Larger, flat


Short or optional
Long, worn across the body

Main Use

Carrying money/personal items
Carrying books, laptops, documents

Material Variety

Wide (leather, fabric, etc.)
More limited (often leather, canvas)

Target Demographic

Primarily women
For both genders

Compare with Definitions


Gather or contract into wrinkles or folds; pucker;
Purse ones's lips


A bag with a strap, often made of leather, used for carrying books or other items.
He slung his satchel over his shoulder as he left for school.


A term used in some regions to refer to a wallet.
He kept his credit cards in his purse.


A large, flat bag used for carrying documents or laptops.
Her satchel was packed with all her work documents.


A small bag used for carrying various small personal items.
She checked her purse for her keys.


A durable bag used for travel or professional needs.
She packed her essentials in her satchel for the quick business trip.


A clutch or a small evening bag without a handle.
She carried a sparkling purse to the party.


A bag typically used by students to carry schoolbooks.
The student's satchel was heavy with textbooks.


A handbag; a small bag used by women to carry personal items.
Her purse matched her shoes perfectly.


A cross-body bag that provides ease of access while commuting.
He preferred a satchel for his daily commute to work.


A usually closable bag used for carrying keys, a wallet, and other personal items, especially by women; a handbag.


A satchel is a bag with a strap, traditionally used for carrying books. The strap is often worn so that it diagonally crosses the body, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip, rather than hanging directly down from the shoulder.


A usually closable small bag or pouch for carrying money.


A small, sturdy bag, often made of leather and having a shoulder strap
I put a change of clothes and my toiletries in my satchel for an overnight trip to Chicago.


Something that resembles a bag or pouch, such as a purse seine.


A woman's handbag that typically has an interior frame, a rectangular shape, a flat bottom, double handles, and a hinged or zippered opening.


An available amount of money or resources
A project funded by the public purse.


A bag or case with one or two shoulder straps, especially used to carry books etc.


A sum of money collected as a present or offered as a prize.


A little sack or bag for carrying papers, books, or small articles of wearing apparel; a hand bag.
The whining schoolboy with his satchel.


To gather or contract (the lips or brow) into wrinkles or folds; pucker.


Luggage consisting of a small case with a flat bottom and (usually) a shoulder strap


A small bag for carrying money.


(US) A handbag (small bag usually used by women for carrying various small personal items)


A quantity of money given for a particular purpose.


(historical) A specific sum of money in certain countries: formerly 500 piastres in Turkey or 50 tomans in Persia.


(transitive) To press (one's lips) in and together so that they protrude.


To draw up or contract into folds or wrinkles; to pucker; to knit.


To put into a purse.


To steal purses; to rob.


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.
Who steals my purse steals trash.


Hence, a treasury; finances; as, the public purse.


A sum of money offered as a prize, or collected as a present; as, to win the purse; to make up a purse.


A specific sum of money


To put into a purse.
I will go and purse the ducats straight.


To draw up or contract into folds or wrinkles, like the mouth of a purse; to pucker; to knit.
Thou . . . didst contract and purse thy brow.


To steal purses; to rob.
I'll purse: . . . I'll bet at bowling alleys.


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


A sum of money spoken of as the contents of a money purse;
He made the contribution out of his own purse
He and his wife shared a common purse


A small bag for carrying money


A sum of money offered as a prize;
The purse barely covered the winner's expenses


Contract one's lips into a rounded shape

Common Curiosities

What is a satchel?

A satchel is a flat, large bag with a shoulder strap, designed to carry books, laptops, and other larger items, suitable for both men and women.

Are satchels comfortable for everyday use?

Yes, satchels are designed for comfort and practicality, making them suitable for everyday use, especially for carrying heavy items.

Do purses come with shoulder straps?

Many purses come with shoulder straps, offering versatility in how they can be carried, but the strap length and style may vary.

What is a purse?

A purse is a small bag used primarily for carrying money and personal items, often considered a fashion accessory for women.

Is a satchel suitable for formal occasions?

Depending on the material and design, satchels can be suitable for formal occasions, especially those made of high-quality leather.

How do I choose between a purse and a satchel?

Choosing between a purse and a satchel depends on your needs for space, the items you plan to carry, and personal style preferences.

Are there luxury versions of satchels?

Yes, there are luxury satchels made by high-end designers, often crafted from premium materials with exceptional craftsmanship.

Can men use purses?

While traditionally associated with women, purses can be used by anyone depending on personal style and needs.

Are satchels only for students?

No, satchels are versatile and used by people of all ages and professions, not just students.

Do satchels have compartments?

Yes, many satchels have multiple compartments and pockets for organizing items, making them practical for work or study.

What materials are purses made from?

Purses can be made from a variety of materials, including leather, fabric, synthetics, and more, to suit different styles and occasions.

Can a satchel be used as a handbag?

Yes, a satchel can function as a handbag, especially larger, stylish models that offer similar utility and appearance.

What's the difference in carrying style between a purse and a satchel?

Purses are often carried by hand or over the shoulder, while satchels are designed to be worn across the body for better weight distribution.

Can a purse hold a laptop?

Most purses are too small to hold laptops, but larger purses or tote bags might accommodate small or ultra-thin laptops.

How do I care for a leather purse or satchel?

Caring for a leather purse or satchel involves regular cleaning, conditioning to prevent drying out, and proper storage to maintain its shape and quality.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Teepee vs. Hut
Next Comparison
Slipper vs. Sleeper

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
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.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms