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Light-brown leather bag next to man typing on laptop
Leather satchel

A satchel is a bag with a strap, traditionally used for carrying books.[1] The strap is often worn so that it diagonally crosses the body, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip, rather than hanging directly down from the shoulder. The back of a satchel extends to form a flap that folds over to cover the top and fastens in the front. Unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided.

School bag[edit]

Children carrying leather and cowhide satchels in Germany

The satchel has been a typical accessory of English students for centuries, as attested in Shakespeare's famous monologue, "All the world's a stage." The traditional Oxford and Cambridge style satchel features a simple pouch with a front flap. Variations include designs with a single or double pocket on the front and sometimes a handle on the top of the bag. The classic school bag satchel often had two straps, so that it could be worn like a backpack, with the design having the straps coming in a V from the centre of the back of the bag, rather than separate straps on each side.[citation needed] This style is sometimes called a satchel backpack.[citation needed]

In Japan the term for a school bag satchel is randoseru.

In the United States, satchels of various designs and materials, classically were the Bookbags of choice for Elementary students into the 1970s. Beginning in the 1950s into the 1970s, the use of bags by schoolchildren declined in favour of carrying books by hand, until backpacks being popular. [2]

In fashion[edit]

The satchel has become a fashion accessory in the last couple of decades, with the proliferation of satchel-shaped handbags and other accessories from various brands such as the Cambridge Satchel Company.[3][4][5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Satchel, The Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 25 January 2020
  2. ^ George A Staffa, Butler PA, Personal observation of 1952-1980.
  3. ^ "Christmas gift guide 2009: Men's accessories". The Guardian. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  4. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess (24 April 2010). "How to dress: Cross-body bags". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  5. ^ Lukas, Erin (23 December 2011). "The story behind the explosion of the Cambridge Satchels". Fashion Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  6. ^ Williams-Grut, Oscar (23 January 2014). "Moneybags: humble British satchel conquers the world". The Independent. Retrieved 17 May 2014.