Definition of handbag in English:



  • 1British A small bag used by a woman to carry everyday personal items.

    • ‘A little further ahead, the strong smell of leather assailed the nostrils and the eyes were greeted with the sight of handbags, purses, wallets, key-chains and stuff like that.’
    • ‘The new store will carry a range of jewellery, many pieces of which use precious stones and are flown in from China, as well as crafted handbags, purses, silk scarves and crystal ornamental ware.’
    • ‘She seemed as if she was going out as she had a car key in her hand and a handbag over her shoulder.’
    • ‘Photographs reveal her conventionally dressed, complete with handbag.’
    • ‘Contrast is very in this season, so play with the possibility of white shoes and a white satchel bag, or go hog wild with a crazy, bold handbag!’
    • ‘Both teenagers who cannot be named for legal reasons, face a further charge of stealing a handbag containing a purse, cash and credit cards.’
    • ‘She later checked her handbag and found a purse with £500 had been stolen.’
    • ‘He knocked on the door and, when the woman opened it, he pushed her inside and ransacked the house, escaping with her handbag, purse and glasses.’
    • ‘Okay, having at least one leather handbag is important, so now it's time for you to know how to treat and clean these leather handbags.’
    • ‘They are all small enough to fit in a purse or handbag, and I know that you will be thankful to have them.’
    • ‘Check this brand of handbag out, you will not be disappointed!’
    • ‘He then demanded money and the student took her purse out of her handbag and threw it on the ground.’
    • ‘Over the past two weeks a number of pensioners have had purses stolen from their handbags, particularly in the market area, and police believe the same people are responsible.’
    • ‘If you are going to own something that cost someone a month's rent, it shouldn't just clutter your desk or handbag, after all.’
    • ‘Also at another golf club, this time in Strandhill, on Thursday last, two cars were broken into and handbags and purses were stolen.’
    • ‘He said a number of female cyclists have been targeted in recent weeks, and advised riders to secure their bags and not to leave purses and handbags in baskets.’
    • ‘Contributed items covering five tables included a brief case, handbags, purse, gloves, toiletries and many other items.’
    • ‘If you are not very tall, a bottle shaped handbag would look best.’
    • ‘Dainty purses and handbags, made of jute, have a classy casual look.’
    • ‘Her gaze drifted through the curious faces all trained on her and she tightened her grip on her oversized black handbag.’
    bag, shoulder bag, clutch bag, evening bag, pochette
    View synonyms
  • 2humorous A confrontation that does not lead to serious fighting, especially among soccer players.

    • ‘The Real World Consultant, who ended up as referee, told us by email that it was serious, handbags at dawn, stuff.’
    • ‘The dust has now settled on the handbags at dawn battle with The Killers and their self-titled debut album has been in the public domain for a while now.’
    • ‘Even my sending-off [in the last minute of a game] was handbags.’
    • ‘In the eight years Violate has been running we have only ever had one tiff - it was between two transvestites and it was handbags at dawn.’
    • ‘Referee John Hogg could have sin-binned several players as the penalty count rose and the handbags flew in the closing stages, but he probably felt it was more of a punishment to keep players participating in this poor match.’
    • ‘Such was the tempo of the game that there were handbags at dawn with no fewer than 12 players involved and also the dismissal of one Ashford player.’
    • ‘Players from both sides got involved in handbags on 70 minutes.’


[with object]humorous, informal
  • (of a woman) verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully.

    ‘I saw her last week and got handbagged for 15 minutes’
    • ‘They survived being handbagged by Mrs Thatcher, but have they found breathing space beneath Tony Blair's sandbags?’
    • ‘In appearance, London will give up €1.5billion a year from Britain's annual rebate, handbagged by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 after a traditional Anglo-French spat over farm cash and currently running at around €5billion a year.’
    • ‘Now that Annabel Goldie has handbagged the awkward squad in her party, Atticus wonders if the new Conservative leader's longer-term ambition lies elsewhere.’
    • ‘The prime minister has just won an election with a reduced majority and is celebrating by handbagging the European Union.’
    • ‘Simpson points out: ‘That means all those members of Women's Institutes who are currently handbagging our own Prime Minister over his GM plans are now tainted as dangerous terrorists.’’
    • ‘This was Prodi at his most clumsily counterproductive: the deal handbagged by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 clearly does need to be renegotiated to take account of greater UK wealth, a 25-member union and less spending on farm subsidies.’
    • ‘Margaret Thatcher didn't do it when she handbagged Reagan over Grenada.’
    • ‘If you wish it was you who'd managed to throw that Prescott egg, or who'd been able to handbag Tony Blair on the steps of your local hospital, then we have just the thing for you.’
    • ‘Never mind being handbagged, I bet the TDs of the day didn't fancy a clout in the lug with a sharp-edged basket.’