Definition of satchel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsatʃ(ə)l/


A bag carried on the shoulder by a long strap and closed by a flap, used especially for school books.
Example sentences
  • All exercises are done in the classroom itself so that children are relaxed at home and need not carry satchels stuffed with heavy loads of textbooks and exercise books.
  • White-coated show members with satchels hanging from their shoulders collect admission money at the gates.
  • The man carried a small satchel on his back full to the brim with goods, but this year there were no customers.


Middle English: from Old French sachel, from Latin saccellus 'small bag'.

  • sack from Old English:

    When it refers to a bag, sack is related to Dutch zak and German Sack, and goes back to Semitic, the family of languages that includes Hebrew and Arabic. The word passed through Greek and Latin into the language of the Continental Anglo-Saxons, who brought it with them to England, leaving us with the interesting question of what words were being used for an object that these cultures must have had before the borrowing, and why they felt the need to borrow it. Latin saccus is the source of the biological sac (mid 18th century) and, via French, of sachet (mid 19th century) and satchel (Old English) both ‘a little sack’. The sack meaning ‘to plunder or pillage a town or city’ came in the mid 16th century from French, where the phrase was mettre à sac, ‘to put to the sack’. This may have originally referred to filling a sack with plunder, so the two words would ultimately be the same.

    People in employment have been given the sack since the early 19th century, probably echoing a French phrase. In ancient Rome the sack was much more serious than losing a job—it was being sewn into a sack and drowned as a punishment for killing a parent or other near relative. Sacks were made of a coarse rough fabric woven from flax and hemp, called sackcloth. The Gospel of St Matthew describes the wearing of sackcloth and the sprinkling of ashes on your head as signs of repentance and mourning, and people experiencing these emotions can still be in sackcloth and ashes.

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