Man purse: one word or two?

Manpurse? Man-purse? Man purse? Which is it?

We know some of you have been wondering: Why do we insist on spelling “man purse” as two words? Shouldn’t it be manpurse? or man-purse?

Let’s take these options one at a time. What is a manpurse? It appears to us to be some amalgamated creature formed of both human and handbag parts. We don’t like it. It diminishes the power of the man and the power of the purse by crashing the two together into an unintelligible mishmash. We’ll accept it as a Flickr tag, because they run everything together anyway, but that’s about it.

Not too far from that confusing compound coinage is the hyphenated noun man-purse. To us this is a beast that confounds description: an unstable composite of male and fashion-accessory functions, likely to become unlinked at any moment; a sentient being you can store your keys in. Alternatively, it smacks of some unusual mutation of the sexual organs, as in He showed me his man-purse.

No thank you.

We vastly prefer the two separate words, man purse, as their simple juxtaposition most effectively describes the peculiar social function of this at-times-awkward male accessory. A purse, but for a man. Someday, perhaps, the moment will come when men everywhere feel comfortable enough about carrying a purse that they drop the qualifying adjective and call it simply a “purse.”

But that day is probably a long way off, and here at the Satchel Pages we do not root for its arrival. Why? Well, for one thing that would put us on the same turf as a number of relentlessly cheerful sites that parade in front of their (mostly female) readers an endless stream of expensive handbags, each slightly more absurd than the last. We just couldn’t bear it.

Why, then, will you sometimes find the hyphenated term man-purse in our commentary? It’s a simple point of proper punctuation. Unless you are describing scientific terms or colors or some other accepted exception, two adjectives that together describe the noun they precede should be connected by a hyphen (especially if there is an opportunity for confusion). A man-purse sale. A man-purse website. But: A website about man purses.

We hope this clears up any confusion. Now did someone have a question about man bags?

One Response to “Man purse: one word or two?”

  1. February was man-purse month - The Satchel Pages: Home of the Man Purse Says:

    [...] Is it manpurse, man-purse, or man purse? Discuss. [...]

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