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[purs] /pɜrs/
a woman's handbag or pocketbook.
a small bag, pouch, or case for carrying money.
anything resembling a purse in appearance, use, etc.
a sum of money offered as a prize or reward.
a sum of money collected as a present or the like.
money, resources, or wealth.
verb (used with object), pursed, pursing.
to contract into folds or wrinkles; pucker:
to purse one's lips.
to put into a purse.
Origin of purse
before 1100; (noun) Middle English, Old English purs, blend of pusa bag (cognate with Old Norse posi) and Medieval Latin bursa bag (≪ Greek býrsa hide, leather); (v.) Middle English pursen to put in a purse, derivative of the noun
Related forms
purseless, adjective
purselike, adjective
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pursing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He lifted his brows, pursing his lips whimsically; and Amelia laughed.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • And pursing her lips she slowly drew a long stitch of grey thread.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • "I await your explanation, sir," resumed the magistrate, pursing his lips.

    The Companions of Jehu Alexandre Dumas, pre
  • Mrs. Emery returned to her list, pursing up her lips and wagging her head.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • He read on, nodding now and then, pursing his mouth at a word, once copying something on to his own tablets.

    The Path of the King John Buchan
  • "Conscience-money," said Mr. Bonnithorne, pursing up his mouth.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • The good priest hummed on, plaiting and replaiting his fingers and pursing his lips.

    The Firebrand S. R. Crockett
  • He just raised his head when I looked in and shook it negatively, pursing up his lips.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • "Well, it may be best," she said, pursing her mouth as if she tasted the bitter of some half-suspected and disagreeable future.

    Overland John William De Forest
British Dictionary definitions for pursing


a small bag or pouch, often made of soft leather, for carrying money, esp coins
(US & Canadian) a woman's handbag
anything resembling a small bag or pouch in form or function
wealth; funds
a sum of money that is offered, esp as a prize
(transitive) to contract (the mouth, lips, etc) into a small rounded shape
Word Origin
Old English purs, probably from Late Latin bursa bag, ultimately from Greek: leather
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
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Word Origin and History for pursing



Old English pursa "little bag made of leather," especially for carrying money, from Medieval Latin bursa "leather purse" (source also of Old French borse, 12c., Modern French bourse; cf. bourse), from Late Latin bursa, variant of byrsa "hide," from Greek byrsa "hide, leather." Change of b- to p- perhaps by influence of Old English pusa, Old Norse posi "bag."

Meaning "woman's handbag" is attested from 1951. Meaning "sum of money collected as a prize in a race, etc.," is from 1640s. Purse-strings, figurative for "control of money," is from early 15c. Purse-snatcher first attested 1902 (earlier purse-picker, 1540s). The notion of "drawn together by a thong" also is behind purse-net (c.1400).


c.1300, "put in a purse;" c.1600 as "draw together and wrinkle" (as the strings of a money bag), from purse (n.). Related: Pursed; pursing.



c.1300, "put in a purse;" c.1600 as "draw together and wrinkle" (as the strings of a money bag), from purse (n.). Related: Pursed; pursing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with pursing


In addition to the idiom beginning with purse also see: can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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