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Alan:"It's not a purse. It's a satchel."

Triad boss:"Is a purse, and you steal it from wrong guy!"

A joke, especially in Sit Coms, wherein a character consistently refers to something embarrassing (or effeminate) by what they hope is a more dignified name.

See also Unusual Euphemism when very unpleasant things are concerned. Compare and contrast with Insistent Terminology. Real Men Wear Pink is the standard subversion.

Examples of The European Carry All include:


  • Played perfectly straight in a conversation between two bison (yes, bison) in a telephone company commercial a few years back for camera phone support:

 Bison 1: Is that a purse?

Bison 2: No! It's a murse! It's for men! It's European!

Bison 1: Uh-huh...

Bison 2: Look, my girlfriend got it for me and I have to use it a while. Let's just keep this to ourselves, okay?

Bison 1: Okay...

*camera phone clicks*

Bison 2: What was that?

  • A Progressive Insurance commercial has saleslady Flo telling a couple that Progressive can compare its rate with those of other top companies, thereby sparing them from spending all day shopping around to compare.

 Flo: (to husband) And no more holding her purse!

Wife: (irritated) It's a European shoulder bag.

Husband: (sheepish) It Was a Gift. (rolls eyes to indicate wife)

  • Miller Lite's "Man Up" campaign gives men purses, lower-back tattoos, and skirts, but only the purse ad features this trope.

 Female Bartender: When you start caring, put down that purse and I'll get you a Miller Lite.

Male Bar Patron: It's a carry-all.

Female Bartender: (assertive) No, it's not.

  • An ad for ESPN's College Gameday (aired during the 2011 football season) opens with Erin Andrews signing off the 9:00 ESPNU hour and the regular ESPN team taking the set. Chris Fowler finds what seems to be a white purse and yells, "Hey Erin, you left your purse!", prompting Desmond Howard to snatch it away and say something to the effect of, "That's not a purse, it's a satchel. These are big in Europe right now, but you wouldn't know about that." Cue incredulous looks from Fowler (who also says, "No, I would not"), Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso. (Watch it here.)


  • In a sort of meta-example, fans always insist on referring to Char Aznable's Ace Custom color scheme as "red" when, to many people, it looks suspiciously pink, especially in the original TV series. Never commented on in-show, but an occasional source of minor Flame Wars in the fandom.
    • Sunrise, the company responsible for the Gundam franchise, may have been having some fun with this in their latest effort, Gundam00. When one of the show's aces (in this case a female) receives their own "Ace Custom" mech, it's very blatantly pink, and it is called the "Tieren Taozi". Taozi is, for the uninformed, Chinese for "peach".
      • Later on, all of the lead Gundams become capable of going into Trans-Am mode where they become sparkly, pink and, of course, three times faster.
    • Lampshaded in the author's notes of the official parody manga Kidou Senshi Gundam-san. The author mentions how, when he was a kid, he painted many of his other model kits (fighter jets, cars, castles) in "Char Custom" colours (read: pink), leading his mother to an entirely erroneous conclusion.
    • Appleseed Ex Machina may be making fun of this example by giving Deunan Knute a pink LandMate prototype.
    • Then there's Akito Tenkawa's Aestivalis in Martian Successor Nadesico, which is very blatently pink, in both the show and merchandise. It is never commented on, but is especially obvious when all the female pilots (who always outnumber the male) have decidedly more masculine colors.

Comic Books

 Bystander: Nice scooter, freak!

Deadpool: It's a motorbike! It's 100% manly!

  • In an X-Men comic Jean Grey asks Jubilee if she still has nightmares. Jubilee responds that nightmares are for babies; she has "traumatic evening episodes".
  • This example on shows how Robin doesn't even want to think about Batman wearing pink. (Be careful going to Superdickery: the site has a lot of viruses.)
  • Spoiler's costume is not purple, it's eggplant. "Purple would've looked stupid"
  • King Smurf's costume is not yellow but gold.


  • In The Hangover, Alan refers to his man purse as a satchel. ("Indiana Jones has one!")
    • Later, it turns out that Alan and Mr. Chow both own the same satchel, except Chow insists that his is NOT a satchel, but indeed a purse.
  • Clerks II One character insists that something is not bestiality porn, it's "inter-species erotica"
    • "Fucko."
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: "It's not a dress! It's a kilt, sicko!"


  • In Figgs & Phantoms, the main feature of the Alternate Dimension is a pink palm tree, which its lone resident insists is coral, not pink.
  • In Michael Chabon's Manhood For Amateurs he devotes an entire chapter to the defence of his man-purse titled 'I feel good about my Murse'.

Live Action TV

  • Trope namer: In Seinfeld, Jerry buys a "European carry-all" from the J. Peterman catalogue -- but essentially, it's a purse.
    • "It's not a purse! It's European!"
    • This could also be a Shout-Out to a dialect difference. In Britain (which is English-speaking Europe), a purse isn't a "carry-all", it's considerably smaller. To a European, a bag like that is... a bag, or a handbag. Though the joke could be tweaked by referring to a recent fashion for "manbags".
    • In another episode, Kramer tries to sell bras bros to men with man-boobs.
      • "It's a manzier!"
  • In Friends, Ross refers to his shirt as being "sort of a faded salmon color", when it's actually pink.
    • Friends also had an episode where Joey, based on fashion advice from Rachel started carrying a "unisex bag". Everyone else called it a purse.
      • Also subverted as Joey loved his "man's bag" despite what others think, he only got rid of it because it started to affect his work (and switches to a backpack instead).
  • Subverted in Community, when Dean Pelton's assistant prefers not to use the term "secretary" because it's degrading to women; instead, she "helps the Dean do office-y things."
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert insists for several episodes that a bull gored him in the "upper thigh".
  • In All in The Family, Mike defends his habit of carrying what Archie calls a purse by insisting it's actually a "shoulder-bag for men".
  • During the series finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Miles and Keiko disagreed on the definition of the scale model of the Alamo that Miles and Julian had built. Keiko insisted it was a toy, while Miles favored the term "miniature". Additionally, in an earlier episode, Worf observed Julian and Miles working on this model and lamented Ezri Dax's affection for Julian Bashir by grumbling "He plays with toys." Ezri insisted "It's a model."
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Rodney insists that he did not faint, but "passed out from manly hunger."
    • In another episode, Rodney started to say that he was "escaping", but quickly changed it to "effecting a strategic retreat". Likely homaging Dr. Smith from Lost in Space who said the same thing.
  • In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned carries a pillow- an ordinary bedroom pillow, with plain white pillowcase- around in "Guide to: Friends Moving". He refers to it as a "cushion protector", and it saves him from several head injuries and a Pie in the Face .
    • And his 'leftie-shirt', which was a blouse.
  • In That 70s Show, Eric has a collection of G. I. Joe and Star Wars toys. He calls them "action figures", everybody else calls them "dolls".
  • From a sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus:

 Miss Bladder: I'm not a courtesan!

Biggles (Graham Chapman): Courtesan? Oh, oh, aren't we grand? Harlot's not good enough for us, eh? Paramour, concubine, fille de joie, that's what we're not. Listen to me, my fine fellow, you are a bit of tail. Algy says so.

Miss Bladder: And how would he know?

Biggles: Are you calling my comrade-in-arms Algy a fairy?

Miss Bladder: Fairy? Poof's not good enough for you. He's got to be a bleedin' fairy!

    • And what about Brave Sir Robin? He's not running away. He's not!
  • In a Scrubs episode, Cox meets a doctor who likes to collect dolls. Did I say dolls? It's a collectible!
    • This is a doctor, by the way, who is even more annoying than Cox and is played by Detective Stabler.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Dewey carries a handbag that he insists is a bookbag. When a group of kids make fun of him for it, he hits them with it. This is quite effective as he had filled it with bricks.
  • In Star Trek, the Command officers (or Security/Engineer in Star Trek: The Next Generation) don't wear yellow: they wear Gold uniforms.
    • The original "gold shirts" were actually green. The lighting on the set, and the kind of film used, were all that made them gold.
  • Decade's outfit is not pink, it's magenta.
  • The "doll vs. action figure" thing (see Real Life below) was inverted on an episode of Law and Order SVU. They caught a suspect by exploiting his love of doll collecting. Finn tried to build rapport with the guy by admitting that as a child he had played with dolls, too, such as G.I. Joe. The guy corrected him that those were not dolls, they were action figures.
  • In the Wings episode "Just Call Me Angel", Joe carries around what looks very much like (and what the other characters keep referring to as) a makeup case. However, he keeps insisting it's a man's travel bag.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Bloom County, Opus takes a job as a garbageman and demands to be called a "waste management artisan." Milo refuses to do this, until Opus successfully argues that if Ronald Reagan's arms shipments to Iran can be called "goodwill gifts", he can be a "waste management artisan."
  • In The Boondocks A strip has Granddad defending his "Man-Bag" as being manly in a strip introducing the Unusual Euphemism "Brokeback", for something of dubious masculinity.

Professional Wrestling

  • Commentators refer to groin shots (particularly unintentional ones) as "hits to the lower abdomen". Possibly justified, as actual groin shots are supposed to end the match immediately.
  • For that matter, it's not Professional Wrestling either, it's Sports Entertainment. They're not fans, they're the WWE Universe. They're not wrestlers, they're Superstars and Divas.

Video Games

  • In Escape from Monkey Island, Guybrush requisitions a ship, only to be given a bright pink vessel called The Dainty Lady. If he complains to the Harbormistress, she will suggest other terms for the color, such as "magenta." In a bit of a subversion, one of her suggestions, "Flaming Popsicle," is even more embarrassing.
    • Interestingly, the ship's figurehead, when animated, is decidedly unladylike and is in no way dainty.
  • In edutainment title Recess in Greece, the protagonist (a monkey named Morgan) ends up in a kid-friendly (complete with the necessary Bowdlerization and ADHD-tempting hilarious animations when you click on everything) version of The Iliad, with Morgan in the role of Odysseus. The moment after he goes through his daydream time-warp, he lands outside the Parthenon, where a Greek statue talks to him. Morgan soon asks, "Why am I wearing a dress?". The statue immediately chastises him: "It's not a dress! It's a chiton! You'd know that if you were paying attention in class!"
  • In Fallout 3, former childhood bully Butch becomes the hairdresser for Vault 101 (which is the job he got on his G.O.A.T. exam), though he insists that he's not a hairdresser, but a barber.
  • In Baldur's Gate 2 the Player is lucky enough to meet up with Drizz't (again), Wulfgar and their heroic friends. When you encounter them, they are searching the undergrowth for a misplaced magical hammer that is absolutely NOT 'pink' - it's 'light red'!
  • If you play Phantasy Star Online, try telling a western FOmar that they're wearing a dress. Then sit back and watch the flames rise.
  • It's averted with Miles Edgeworth, who fully admits that the show Steel Samurai (which he secretly fanboys) is a kid's show--but then goes on to give a long caveat that the show is accessible to people of all ages and is very mature.
  • From Neverwinter Nights 2

 Zinn: I'm Zinn, the pretty lady to my right is Niyra, the elf is Shahra, and the gnome in the dress is Oyo.

Oyo: It's a robe, you bastard.

Web Comics

 "Hey we're on the trail of a purse thief! Is that your purse?"

"Yes it's a man's purse."

"Is this your lipstick in it?"

"Yes it's man's lipstick."

"Is this your fancy lady's hat?"

"Yes it's a man's fancy lady's hat."

"Another dead end boys!"

  • Doubly subverted in this strip of Penny Arcade where Gabe takes offence to his belt-mounted carrying bag being called a fanny pack, but then calling the second bag he's wearing a fanny pack.

Web Original

  • In the Halo-based machinima series Red vs. Blue, Donut spends most of the first season wearing a suit of pink armor, which he insists is "light-ish red".
    • "Guess what? They already have a color for lightish-red. You know what it's called? Pink!"

Western Animation

  • In the animated series Mighty Max, bird-like scholarly mystic Virgil is constantly correcting people that he is a "fowl", not a "chicken".
  • Also from The Boondocks: Gangstalicious starts a new line of "Gangsta" clothing and accessories, which includes a Man Bag. Gangstalicious, of course, turns out to be "On the Down Low", as it were.
  • From Avatar: The Last Airbender:

 Sokka: Oh, [Zuko's] just some angry freak with a ponytail who's tracked us all over the world.

Katara: What's wrong with ponytails, ponytail?

Sokka: This is a warrior's wolftail!

Katara: Well, it certainly tells the other warriors that you're fun and perky!

    • There's also this exchange from "The Blind Bandit" (where Sokka bought a shoulder bag and Aang won an Earthbending championship belt, and Sokka appreciated how the two went together):

 Sokka: (to Aang) Don't answer to "Twinkle-toes"! It's not manly!

Katara: You're the one whose bag matches his belt.

    • Later on, Aang and Zuko learn an ancient technique that amplifies their fire powers. Zuko insists it's not a SYNCHRONIZED DANCE! It just happens to be called "The Dancing Dragons"...
  • "It's not a dress, it's a toga."
  • The Venture Brothers: Dean: "My big gift is a jumpsuit???". Dr.Venture: "Speedsuit Dean, Speedsuit. I don't ever want to hear you say jumpsuit again."
  • Bobo the sentient primate in Generator Rex is always peeved whenever anyone refers to his "simian undergarment" as a diaper.
  • An Edgar and Ellen cartoon had Ellen calling Edgar out on keeping his important plans in "that man-purse." Edgar insisted that it wasn't a man-purse, it was a satchel.
  • Doug keeps a journal. Not a diary.
  • Arnold inverts this: he's wearing a long shirt, even though some say he's wearing a kilt.
  • The "doll vs. action figure" variant shows up on both PB and J Otter and Arthur

Real Life

  • Nintendo is sometimes chastised for initially making purple the primary color of the Gamecube console. Some defend this decision by arguing that the Gamecube isn't purple, but indigo.
    • Assuming most kids were in science class this is accurate.
      • But Indigo is a dark blue, while the original Gamecube is closer to Old Mauve...
    • Likewise the "clear pink" version of the original GBA was red to some.
    • Nintendo themselves went through a period of referring to all colors by non-standard names. The aforementioned pink GBA was "fuchsia" and the orange GC was "spice" for no clear reason.
      • Try Polar White, Onyx, Cobalt, or Metallic Rose DS Lite colors on for size.
  • Hot Topic peddled a denim skirt to teenage male Emo kids as a "one-legged pant." It's still listed at the web site, but may or may not be sold anymore.
  • There are new skates now called "side-by-sides" that have, get this, two wheels in front and two wheels in back! Anyone born before 1992 may remember that these hip, new alternatives to inlines were called "rollerskates" for much of the 20th century.
    • This kind of thing is more properly called a retronym.
  • The English national football team famously dropped their traditional Red away shirt in favour of what they called Indigo-Blue (but appeared somewhat grey) in the mid-90s.
  • Accidentally invoked by William Stroudley, Chief Engineer of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). During the late 19th century Stroudley famously had the LBSCR's locomotives painted in a shade of his own devising called "Improved Engine Green". It turned out a kind of toffee-brown colour as a result of his previously undiagnosed red-green colour blindness, but the effect was attractive enough that they kept it for the next 35 years.
    • Wikipedia ends up playing it straight by calling the colour "golden ochre". Judge for yourselves.
      • This is ochre, a very specific yellow-brown colour. And it is not a new invention since cchre is actually one of the oldest pigments known to mankind.
  • Inversion: You know those skull-crushing brass knuckles you sometimes find in American mail order catalogs? Well, stop calling them that, because they're actually paperweights.
    • And those big, solid billy clubs for sale at many truck stops, perfect for bashing in someone's noggin? They're actually tire thumpers. Yep.
  • It's not a doll. It's an ACTION FIGURE!!
    • The matter needed to be decided so in 2003 the court of international trade defined action figures as "nonhuman creatures". Which says nothing of their construction materials or intended demographic which usually defines which term is used. Not to mention Barbie's (a doll) impossible anatomy, it's a wonder she hasn't been classified as a "nonhuman", but that's enough commentary out of me for now.
    • And the related "They're not toys, they're MINIATURES!!"
      • Inverted by many wargamers whose contribution to 'realism in rules' debates is "It's grown men playing with toy soldiers."
  • There are some anime fans who will get very annoyed if you refer to what they are watching as "cartoons"... then again, considering the stigma of the word "cartoon". "Anime" in this context is a shortening of animeeshon, the Japanese pronunciation of "animation." And the French animé more literally just means "animated."
      • Incidentally, everything animated is anime in Japan. Tom and Jerry is anime in Japan. It's just the word for anything animated. Yes, anime is literally cartoons.
    • The very same stigma makes western comic fans call them Graphic novels.
    • On the same note: "It's not a Comic]], it's Manga!"
  • If you call that copy of Watchmen a Comic Book, you throw yourself into the Animation Age Ghetto. If you call it a Graphic Novel, you are seen as needlessly pretentious. There's really no way to win.
    • Trade Paperback or TPB?
      • A trade paperback is a release form of a novel that really shouldn't be associated with comic books. A trade paperback is the release after the hardcover version of the novel but before the mass market release of a novel. Most non-hardcover works by post modern authors are usually this size (ie. Chuck Palahniuk, Brian Eston Ellis, Douglas Coupland, etc.). Most collected editions of comic books retain the general size of the original comic book so that they are easy to archive by collectors.
    • And it gets really complicated if you point out that Watchmen was published as a limited series of comic books with no intention on the creators' part to have it packaged in the familiar collection.
      • This is particularly funny because while most people today would associate 'novel' with prose published in volumes (and therefore potentially argue for 'graphic novel' to be used for comics collected in volumes), most commercial novels used to be serialised and therefore published as periodicals, only being collected in omnibus volumes if they proved sufficiently popular. In essence, any argument that goes, "It's not a comic book, it's a graphic novel because it's published in one volume" is probably historically inaccurate.
      • This is also particularly funny because actually comical comics, with comedy, are exceedingly rare today.
  • Every modern product will refuse to be a simple color. Just try to match the paint on your car by looking up "green". There are no "green" cars sold. NONE. No "orange" cars, but we do have "Tangerine".
    • Errr...
    • DMV and law enforcement ignore this, of course. The color field on vehicle registrations is too small, and the police don't want technicalities because they put crimson or scarlet instead of candy-apple for vehicle color.
  • It's not a skirt, it's a kilt.
    • To be more pedantic, "skirt" is a general term for a wide range of garments that consist of a length of fabric beginning at the waist and descending below the crotch, and constructued in a roughy tubular form, unconnected between the legs. So yes, homophobic objections aside, kilts are, indeed, skirts; they are simply a special class of skirt. Specifically, "A gathered or pleated, wrapped skirt consisting of a single, unjoined piece of fabric, secured at the waist by a belt or tie". And although the "Tartan" design originated in Scotland, the kilt proper predates the Scottish version by roughly six millenia, dating back to ancient Egypt; and has evolved independently in various cultures at various times of history. (Incidentally, what is commonly considered a "traditional" Scottish kilt actually bears very little resemblance to traditional Scottish dress; but was [[Newer Than They Think purely the invention of the Victorian-era British, and back-adopted into Scotland. The traditional Scottish form didn't even originate in Scotland; but was adopted from the Norse Vikings.) The "no underwear" convention was also not traditional; but was entirely the creation of one specific British Army regiment, who forsook underwear to prove how "manly" they were.
  • Stewardesses are flight attendants nowadays.
    • Is that really a fair comparison? I mean, it's not like they require male flight attendants to wear skirts...
      • The word "stewardess" already has a established male form ("steward").
    • George Carlin doesn't understand why there is no cockpit in airliners anymore. There is a flight deck.
  • People who live in moose-heavy areas of North America are probably all familiar with news reports of tourists (usually male) being injured in the "upper thigh" by the gigantic ungulates. Since most moose injuries occur after the victim turns and runs away from the animal he was annoying most people understand what the euphemism really refers to.
  • There are no wars anymore. War is illegal. We do have some 'armed conflicts' though.
    • From a U.S. standpoint, war isn't illegal. However, only Congress has the power to officially declare war, but doing so grants the president the ability to do...well...a lot of things no one really wants him to be able to do. Thus, Congress avoids declaring war at all costs, and so it isn't "technically" a war.
    • Although we do still have wars, we don't have wars WITH countries any more, we have wars IN countries.
    • Well, you know, you only have wars with sovereign nations. When you're dealing with a "terrorist state", its merely a police action. "The War On Terror" is a bit like "The War On Drugs" in that respect.
    • Former Minister of Defence of Germany Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stated that there is no war in Afghanistan. It is "a situation similar to war".
      • Which in Germany actually was the inversion of the trope. Here German politics insist on politically correct vocabulary and calling it an 'armed conflict' and suchlike. The use of the army in foreign conflicts is unpopular and a very sore theme, with people having been going 'Screw it, that's war, and WTF are we doing there anyway?' for a long time. So Guttenberg actually was less euphemistic by daring to call the situation "war-like" and being "perceived as war" by those involved, resulting in one side rejoicing at his frankness and the other side still criticizing him for using the term 'war' even if only in a simile.
    • All propaganda aside, a war is a very specific kind of armed conflict, defined by international law. Many modern conflicts are really not wars but rather uprisings. Think difference between murder and a manslaughter that is transparent to Joe Average but pretty important in court.
  • The Blackpool FC kit is tangerine, not the illuminous orange that it appears.
  • Look up the official colors of any American sports team and it's safe to say that "yellow" will always be called "gold" instead. Because honestly, who wants to be known as the team that wears yellow?
    • That's due to heraldic custom. In heraldry, yellow/gold and white/silver are considered equivalent and as such often called by the metallic "or"/gold and "argent"/silver, whether or not they're actually supposed to represent gold and silver.
    • The New Orleans Saints, however, really do wear gold (officially called "old gold") and not yellow.
    • On a similar note, the flag of Germany is black-red-gold (Schwarz-Rot-Gold in German), and not black-red-yellow (Schwarz-Rot-Gelb), despite the lower band being very clearly a dark shade of yellow. This is for political reasons; conservatives, monarchists, and far-right groups (including neo-Nazis) used Schwarz-Rot-Gelb, as well as Schwarz-Rot-Senf (black-red-mustard) and Schwarz-Rot-Scheiße (black-red-shit) to insult it (the flag is associated with liberal/democratic visions of Germany, as opposed to the black-white-red of Imperial Germany and Nazi Germany). It got to the point where calling the flag "black-red-yellow" became a federal offense in Germany on account of its associations with Nazis and their Propaganda Machine. As a result, to quote a prominent vexillologist, "The German colors are black-red-yellow, but they are called black-red-gold."
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