a bag or box of leather, fabric, plastic, or the like, held in the hand or carried by means of a handle or strap, commonly used by women for holding money, toilet articles, small purchases, etc.

1860–65; hand + bag

briefcase, handbag, pocketbook, purse, valise, wallet.
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World English Dictionary
handbag (ˈhændˌbæɡ)
1.  bag, purse, Also called: pocketbook a woman's small bag carried to contain personal articles
2.  a small suitcase that can be carried by hand
3.  a commercial style of House music
[(for sense 3) C20: humorous allusion to the trend for groups of women to dance round their handbags in discos, nightclubs, etc]

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