purse


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

loosen the purse strings

To become more liberal with one's expenditures; to increase the availability of money for spending purposes. After having to count my pennies for so long, it's nice to be able to loosen the purse strings a bit! We'd have a much better and more stable product if the boss would loosen the purse strings a little.
See also: loosen, purse, string

tighten the purse strings

To become less liberal with or more controlling of one's expenditures; to decrease the availability of money for spending purposes. After losing my job, I've had to tighten the purse strings quite a bit. We've been behind schedule ever since the boss decided to tighten the purse strings on our project.
See also: purse, string, tighten

purse strings

The spending power of a given group, such as a family, company, country, etc. Their government is going to have to learn to tighten the purse strings if they want to continue receiving bailout money from the IMF. After my dad's gambling problem came to light, it was my mother who started holding the purse strings.
See also: purse, string

make a silk purse of a sow's ear

To fashion something beautiful or valuable out of poor materials. Often used in the negative, such as "cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear." What do you want me to do with this tacky dress? I can't make a silk purse of a sow's ear!
See also: ear, make, of, purse, silk

a heavy purse makes a light heart

If you are financially secure, you will not worry. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure helps to solve a lot of life's little problems. A heavy purse makes a light heart.
See also: heart, heavy, light, make, purse

control the purse strings

To dictate the spending of a given group, such as a family, company, country, etc. After my dad's gambling problem came to light, my mother started to control the purse strings. The finance department controls the purse strings around here.
See also: control, purse, string

you can't make a silk purse (out) of a sow's ear

You cannot fashion something beautiful or valuable out of poor materials. What do you want me to do with this tacky dress? You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!
See also: ear, make, of, purse, silk

control the purse strings

 and hold the purse strings
Fig. to be in charge of the money in a business or a household. I control the purse strings at our house. Mr. Williams is the treasurer. He controls the purse strings.
See also: control, purse, string

He that hath a full purse never wanted a friend.

Prov. A rich person always has plenty of friends. Jill: Ever since Joe won the lottery, he's been getting congratulations from friends and relatives he hasn't heard from in years. Jane: You know how it is. He that hath a full purse never wanted a friend.
See also: friend, full, hath, he, never, purse, that, want

A heavy purse makes a light heart.

Prov. If you have plenty of money, you will feel happy and secure. Everyone in the office is especially cheerful on payday, since a heavy purse makes a light heart.
See also: heart, heavy, light, make, purse

light purse makes a heavy heart

Prov. If you do not have enough money, you will worry and be unhappy. Nathan is a cheerful person by nature, but since he lost his job, worry has made him glum. A light purse makes a heavy heart.
See also: heart, heavy, light, make, purse

Little and often fills the purse.

Prov. If you get a little bit of money frequently, you will always have enough. Jill: I don't think I'll ever be able to save very much; I can only afford to save such a little bit of money from every paycheck. Jane: Ah, but little and often fills the purse.
See also: and, fill, little, often, purse

purse something up

to bunch or pucker something up. (Usually the lips.) When he tasted the lemon juice, he pursed his lips up and spat it out. Don pursed up his lips as if to spit it out.
See also: purse, up

You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Prov. You cannot make someone more refined than he or she is by nature. I've given up trying to get my cousin to appreciate classical music. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
See also: cannot, ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

Be unable to turn something ugly or inferior into something attractive or of value, as in No matter how expensive his clothes, he still looks sloppy-you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear . This expression was already a proverb in the mid-1500s.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

purse strings

Financial resources or control of them, as in His mother doesn't want to let go of the purse strings because he may make some foolish investments . This expression is often extended to hold or tighten or loosen the purse strings , as in As long as Dad holds the purse strings, we have to consider his wishes, or The company is tightening the purse strings and will not be hiring many new people this year . The purse strings in this idiom are the means of opening and closing a drawstring purse. [Early 1400s]
See also: purse, string

hold the purse strings

COMMON If you hold the purse strings, you control the way that money is spent in a particular family, organization, or country. Six out of ten women think that financial institutions treat them like idiots, even though they usually hold the domestic purse strings. Note: People sometimes use control instead of hold. His department controls the purse strings, and he will make sure that other departments spend money to meet targets he has set. Note: This expression is often varied. For instance, you can talk about someone's hold on the purse strings or control of the purse strings. His manager was in sole control of the purse strings.
See also: hold, purse, string

loosen the purse strings

or

loosen your purse strings

If you loosen the purse strings or loosen your purse strings, you allow more money to be spent. If the Treasury loosens the purse strings, many authorities will be delighted to spend. Companies are loosening their purse strings and making investments in network improvements.
See also: loosen, purse, string

tighten the purse strings

or

tighten your purse strings

If you tighten the purse strings or tighten your purse strings, you reduce the amount of money that can be spent. Election promises must be delayed while the government tightens its purse strings.
See also: purse, string, tighten

you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

If you say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, you mean that it is impossible to make something very successful or of high quality out of something which is unsuccessful or of poor quality. He did his best to coach the team but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Note: People often vary this expression. It takes more than a good swimming pool and an indoor tennis court or two to make a sow's ear of a resort into a silk purse. Afterwards, Kendall made no attempt to describe this sow's ear as a silk purse. Note: A sow is a female pig, and the ears of a pig are regarded as the least useful body parts when the animal is slaughtered.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

hold the purse strings

have control of expenditure.
See also: hold, purse, string

make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

turn something inferior into something of top quality.
The observation that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear has been proverbial since the late 16th century; there was an earlier version which featured a goat's fleece instead of a sow's ear .
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk

control/hold the ˈpurse strings

(informal) be the person who controls the amount of money spent and the way in which it is spent: I’m the one who controls the purse strings in this office, and you must come to me if you want any more money.
See also: control, hold, purse, string

make a silk ˌpurse out of a sow’s ˈear

succeed in making something good out of material that does not seem very good at all: If you’re serious about taking up painting, invest in good quality brushes and canvas. After all, it’s no good trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
See also: ear, make, of, out, purse, silk
References in classic literature ?
A light was procured accordingly, and the robber proceeded to examine the purse.
Delighted at the thought that he had found so easily both a fortune and a beautiful wife, my brother asked no more questions, but concealing his purse, with the money the lady had given him, in the folds of his dress, he set out joyfully with his guide.
said the woman; "I'd let my life be taken from me sooner than the purse.
Oft have I heard of you, and how you lighten the purses of the fat priests and knights.
In exchange," he continued, "give me the red silk purse that M.
Then the miser began to beg and promise, and offered money for his liberty; but he did not come up to the musician's price for some time, and he danced him along brisker and brisker, and the miser bid higher and higher, till at last he offered a round hundred of florins that he had in his purse, and had just gained by cheating some poor fellow.
Here's the gist of the matter in two words: you are to rise on tiptoe, as I tell you; in that way you will be able to reach the pocket of the manikin, you will rummage it, you will pull out the purse that is there,--and if you do all this without our hearing the sound of a bell, all is well: you shall be a vagabond.
I opened the purse and counted it myself; right to a single rouble.
Then the Sheriff called Robin to him, not knowing him in his butcher's dress, and made him sit close to him on his right hand; for he loved a rich young prodigal--especially when he thought that he might lighten that prodigal's pockets into his own most worshipful purse.
Rostov thrust the purse under the pillow and shook the damp little hand which was offered him.
This hero, radiant with rapturous joy, who had the distinguished honour of making the people forget the speech of Van Systens, and even the presence of the Stadtholder, was Isaac Boxtel, who saw, carried on his right before him, the black tulip, his pretended daughter; and on his left, in a large purse, the hundred thousand guilders in glittering gold pieces, towards which he was constantly squinting, fearful of losing sight of them for one moment.
Bianchon narrated the following: Another Study of Woman La Grande Breteche Bidault (known as Gigonnet) Gobseck The Vendetta Cesar Birotteau The Firm of Nucingen A Daughter of Eve Bixiou, Jean-Jacques The Purse A Bachelor's Establishment Modeste Mignon Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Firm of Nucingen The Muse of the Department Cousin Betty The Member for Arcis Beatrix A Man of Business Gaudissart II.
If your cask is leer, I warrant your purse is full, gaffer," shouted Hordle John.
So spoke "Mistress Inchbare," landlady of the Craig Fernie Inn, to Anne Silvester, standing in the parlor, purse in hand, and offering the price of the two rooms before she claimed permission to occupy them.
She produced her purse, and coolly counted out the money, but hesitated to put it into my hand.