Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bursiform - Purse in Form

Ballpoint and pencil drawing by Andrea Joseph


Adjective. Mid-19th century.
[from BURSA + -I- + -FORM.]


Oh praise be! I was so fed up with the lack of adjectives in my vocabulary to describe purse-shaped objects. Just think of all the calzones, pasties, pittas ... umm ... those egg-case things that wash up on the beach ... oh, and purses, of course ... whose shape I've never been able to succinctly describe. Well now I can: "My compliments to the chef on his flawlessly bursiform spinach calzone," or "These, my dear, are actually the egg-sacks of skates, and it is their bursiform structure that gives them the colloquial name mermaid's purses." Wow. How ever did I hold a conversation? Thank you, bursiform.

Devil's purse, Skate's egg case
A skate's egg case
(photo by Xtylee)

What other bursiform bodies are there?

How did you survive without it?

Do please deposit your comments in the bursiform box below.


  1. Hey, I think you squished your bursiform box, because it's not looking too purse-like from my side!
    Does anybody even call them purses any more?
    It's not a word I've heard for a while.

    1. Well, the whole thing is a bit on the confusing side!
      What I call a purse is called a wallet for a female here.
      I think it's the same in the UK?
      In the U.S., a purse is a handbag or a pocketbook.
      (Well it is with the Americans I know!)
      Like I said, I rarely hear it used now, but then I'm old and not in the know any more!! :)

    2. Oh yeah - you're right. I have heard 'purse' used to mean what would be a 'handbag' in Britain. For me, a purse is a small money bag, like the one pictured. A wallet is definitely for men, and is for everything, such as ID, paper money, licences, etc. A handbag is what women carry, and may contain a purse, although some handbags are so small (especially for going out on the town) that they're effectively purses.