Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why Its Called a Pocketbook......

I had a question from a reader in England this week asking why I call a purse or handbag a pocketbook. Well, I've often wondered that myself! Its not a book and it doesn't go in your pocket.

I'm sorry, but it must be my Southern heritage, but I just can't seem to bring myself to call it a purse. I might be able to call it a handbag, but not a purse. I do have a "change purse" that goes inside the pocketbook.

So I googled it and here's why some of us call our handbag/purse a pocketbook:

..... "In 1617, the word first surfaced to denote a small book, now called a notebook; it was a book of addresses, or notes, that fitted in a pocket. By 1816, women were carrying a booklike case with compartments for papers and knickknacks, and they called it a purse, handbag or -- extending the old term -- pocketbook."
I found this explanation HERE.

I also had a couple of requests for a pocketbook tutorial. My list of tutorials somehow got lost in my big blog remodel over the weekend. I hope to put the list back on soon. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to see the pocketbook tutorial, its listed under labels as "Pocketbook Tutorial".

While we are talking about word origins, I find it interesting that I also call the trunk of a car the "boot". My mother's family always called the trunk a boot and the glove compartment is called the pocket. This tells me that my family may have had English roots since that is what people from England call their trunk.

Some words just get passed down to each generation of a family!

I think that most of my readers would get a kick out of the way I talk if they ever heard me. I have a very deep Southern accent and use lots of "Southernisms" in my speech. Also, my area of the South has its own distinctive accent. I do try to use proper english when posting on this blog, but I'm sure sometimes its obvious that I'm a "GIRL RAISED IN THE SOUTH"!


Mary Ann said...

I had never heard of a pocketbook before moving to the South. Now I say it a lot of the time. Although I do use purse more frequently. There are a lot of words and expressions that were new to me. After a while it starts to wear off on a person. My family says that I sound "Southern" on occasion!

Pen Pen said...

Love that Southern accent! I grew up calling the trunk "boot" too. I have basically stopped since we've moved around so much and everyone doesn't use that term. When I moved to western NC, I realized they didn't know what "Nabs" were. I had to start calling them crackers. Now, that I'm back in the Piedmont, they are Nabs again. Also, is it Peecan or Pe-can'? (pecan) I've tried changing my pronunciation to match where I live, but I always go back to "peecan". :o)

Angela said...

This is all SO interesting - thank you for the very full explanation to my original question. We once had an American Neighbour, and she was forever popping round to ask the English name for things - having got some strange looks in shops. Some things were the cause of embarrassment. eg we have 'Bumbags', and you call them 'Fanny Packs' and children here do not rub out mistakes with 'an eraser' they use 'a rubber' If you call the storage bit of a car 'the boot' as I do, where do you put the engine- under the 'hood' or under the 'bonnet'??
Two nations divided by a common language!!
At least 'love and blessings' are universally understood x

Anonymous said...

I use the word purse.

In my job I talk to hundreds of people a day from all over the country. I enjoy hearing the different accents. To be honest I wondered if you had the southern accent. (one of my favorites by the way)

You would probably laugh if you heard my "ozark" accent. I tend to drop the consonants. :)


C. C. said...

What a neat post! I LOVE dialects and accents. I also love to learn how we get different words. My mom always called it a "pocketbook" - I never gave it a moments thought of why it was called that. It just is called that because, well, that's what it's called!

How fun; thank you for posting that.

C. C.

DarcyLee said...

My grandma used to call her purse her pocketbook. She also called the couch (or sofa) the davenport. I'm from the North but much of my family are Southern transplants, so we go down there quite often. It's always fun to hear a grocery cart called a buggy. Great post!

Alexandra said...

Pocketbook is named that way because the old fashioned purses used to be a pocket of material which snaps shut like a book. Remember the old clam shell purses? I'm pretty sure that is why...something I read along time ago.

North Carolina accents are beautiful, and as you get further south the lilt gets softer and softer. We are right on the border with N.C., so we have the much the same accent.

Have you ever heard an authentic Richmond, Virginia accent? The first time I heard it it sound almost British.

We have a group of fisherman in an area of Gloucester who speak an old English dialect. I can barely understand them!

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