- Purse strings is a draw string used to close a handbag, or is slang for having control over the money.
When the wife is in charge of the money in the family and gives her husband an allowance, this is an example of when the wife has the purse strings.
purse strings definition by Webster's New World
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
a drawstring for closing certain purses
purse strings definition by American Heritage Dictionary
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
or purse·stringsplural noun
Financial support or resources, or control over them: the politicians who control federal purse strings; tightened the corporate purse strings.
purse strings - Phrases/Idioms
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]
hold the purse strings
to be in control of the money
tighten (or loosen) the purse strings
to make funds less (or more) readily available