It’s been asked numerous times. Is there a difference between handbags and purses? Well, it depends on where you are from.
The British English meaning of “purse” is a coin purse, wallet, or pocketbook. If you’re from England, you might carry a purse inside of a handbag.
The American English meaning of “purse” has become synonymous with “handbag” which means the term can describe all types of handbags including clutches, satchels, totes, hobos, and more.
So if you’re in America, the answer is no, there is no difference between purses and handbags. If you’re in the UK, the answer is yes.
Now I’ve seen several explanations as to why some in America say “purse” and others say “handbag”. Rumor has it that men say “purse” more often than women, but I can’t find any proof of that. Some speculate it has to do with age and generation, but I have heard both “handbag” and “purse” from people young and old. I have also read that some prefer to say “purse” when describing shoulder bags and “handbag” when describing bags carried by hand such as satchels and clutches.
I believe that the use of purse vs. handbag is simply a personal preference which is not necessarily tied to other factors like age or type of bag.