Our last post on Google Trends and its implications for man-bag carriers everywhere left out a few terms that people might use to refer to a man’s handbag. So today we’ll set out to see if we can find a better answer to a simple question:
If you want to make it sound as innocuous and unextraordinary as possible, what should you call your man purse?
Our tool for this exercise is again the newly released Google Trends, which allows us to chart the relative popularity of various search terms for man purses (among other things, of course) over the last few years. (Unfortunately, Google does not provide actual quantity data.)
Our working theory is that there is safety in numbers: If you refer to it (and get them to refer to it) with a term that has a high level of popularity, it’s less likely that anything you carry will seem strange to friends and colleagues. Let’s face it: As sad a fact as it may be, Johnny’s carrying a briefcase! still has a lot less gossip value than Johnny’s got a man purse!
We’ll tell you our results up front: None of the terms we explore today is clearly superior to our winner from the last post, backpack. But we did come up with two names for man purses that rate better than messenger bag, and one term that just about matches the popularity of backpack but holds perhaps even greater potential as a fashion-trend-surviving, non-feminine-sounding, astoundingly simple moniker for a thingy that men carry.
What did we come up with? Read on to find out . . .
First up: the duds. Gadget bag, military bag, and map bag failed to make our minimum threshold — parity with man bag or man pack. Gadget bag exhibited only the strange erect stub man sack achieved in our last test, this time centering around mid-February of this year.
Bandolier doesn’t beat man bag or man pack, but it does better than we had expected, and appears to have been more popular than those two terms in early 2004.
Messenger bag was one of the standouts from our previous exploration, easily trouncing a host of terms, including man bag. And it still holds up well, besting lunchbox and — surprisingly — laptop bag. A slightly closer competitor is duffle, which appears to be a popular gift idea for the holidays.
The delivery theme does seem to do well — messenger bag and diaper bag appear about even, though the northern hemisphere’s late summer seems to spur more thoughts of bicycle deliveries than baby poo.
But two seemingly specialized items beat messenger bag handily: holster and iPod case. Either would make a fine euphemism for man purse. It doesn’t matter how big a sack of stuff you’re carrying: If you’ve got an iPod inside, you can call it an iPod case.
With the exception of a mad rush for iPod cases in December of last year though, neither term can outpace the popularity of the backpack.
Our new favorite, though, comes close enough. You’ve heard the term before. You likely have one in your back pocket: wallet. And so what? you say. Wallets are just as popular as backpacks. That’s all that Google Trends tracks. It doesn’t track what people are truly looking for when they type wallet into Google.
But what if you decided to call your man purse a wallet? So it has a strap, or a handle, and it’s not going to fit in any of your pockets even if you do a whole lot of shoving. So what? When you tell your friend you have to go back to the car because you left your wallet inside, he’ll know what you mean, and when he sees you come back carrying a bag he’ll know why you’re carrying it.