Difference Between a Wallet & a Billfold

by Herb Kirchhoff

Wallet and billfold are both able to hold money and personal items.

full wallet image by green308 from Fotolia.com

The wallet and billfold are both pocket-sized folding holders for paper money, credit cards and small personal documents like a driver’s license or photos. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the words billfold and wallet are synonyms that can be used interchangeably. Merriam-Webster says the word billfold came into use in the 1890s while the word wallet can trace its roots back to the 14th Century.

Word Origins

Merriam-Webster.com says billfold is a shortened form of the term “bill folder.” A bill folder is a leather case for holding and presenting important documents without creasing them. Merriam-Webster said a wallet originally was a small leather or cloth bag that held small personal items while traveling.

Other Reference Sources Agree

Other word definition sources also see no real difference between billfold and wallet. For instance, Encarta.com defines billfold as a pocket-sized folding container for paper money, photos, personal papers, sometimes with a compartment for loose change. It defines wallet as a small flat folding case of leather or plastic for holding paper money and credit cards, carried in pocket or purse.

Wallet’s Other Meanings

But the word wallet has additional meanings that aren’t attached to the word billfold. Wordnik.com says wallet also refers to the financial resources at your disposal, as in “hitting people in the wallet to get their attention.”

Electronic Wallet

An electronic wallet, says BusinessDictionary.com, is a piece of computer software that stores coded credit card information that you use to make online purchases without having to enter all your card information.

Share of Wallet

Share of wallet, says information-management.com, is a marketing measurement for the proportion of money the customer spends on your product brand in preference to the competing brands.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.