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  1. Older Use. a pickpocket.
  2. (formerly) a person who steals by cutting purses from the belt.

Origin of cutpurse

First recorded in 1325–75, cutpurse is from the Middle English word cutte-purs. See cut, purse
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cutpurse

Historical Examples

  • He excludes "the insolence of office," and "the cutpurse of the empire and the rule."

    Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 9, 1870


  • The pickpocket plied his trade, only he was then a cutpurse.

  • I feel as if only to think of it were lowering myself to the level of some cutpurse.

    The King's Esquires

    George Manville Fenn

  • Some apprentices had caught a cutpurse in the crowd, and were beating him unmercifully.

    Master Skylark

    John Bennett

  • He tickles his ears with a straw, and while he is pleased with scratching it, picks his pocket, as the cutpurse served Bartl.

British Dictionary definitions for cutpurse


  1. an archaic word for pickpocket
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cutpurse


"one who steals by the method of cutting purses, a common practice when men wore their purses at their girdles" [Johnson], mid-14c., from cut (v.) + purse (n.). The word continued after the method switched to picking pockets.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper