What's the best/proper way to express wallet in Russian?
I've asked my Russian speaking friends and they say кошелёк or портмоне. Google Translate suggests бумажник.
What are the differences?
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"Бумажник" is a wallet.
"Кошелёк" is a purse or a wallet. If you just need a term for "wherever you carry the money", "кошелёк" sounds more natural than "бумажник"
"Портмоне" sounds fancy. It's mostly used in literature and ads, and calling your own wallet "портмоне" might be perceived as a bit pompous.
Портмоне and бумажник are synonyms. In fact, they are correct translations for wallet. They are used to keep paper money and other things like credit cards, business cards and so on.
Кошелек is a bit different. It is also used for keeping money, but it usually has a larger place for coins. Nowadays it looks closer to портмоне, but it is usually smaller. Wikipedia reads that you have to fold a banknote to put it into кошелек, while you don't have to fold paper money when putting it into портмоне or бумажник.
Кошелёк is any small case for carrying money and paper around in your pocket or purse. It's a broader term.
Портмоне (or бумажник) is "wallet": a specific type of such a case, a flat, foldable case primarily designed to hold flat items such as paper money and credit cards.
All three translations are acceptable, but портмоне and бумажник are more precise.
Кошелёк is also better suited for translation of "wallet" in metaphorical sense.
For instance, names of numerous payment services which use "wallet" in English (Google Wallet, Qiwi Wallet etc.) are usually translated using кошелёк into Russian.
Proper "wallet" translation is "бумажник", "purse" is "кошелёк".
Common word people use in everyday speech is "кошелёк", although both are fine. "Бумажник" sounds modernish to me.
"Портмоне" is originally French - porte-monnaie. French language was often used before revolution by nobles/rich, so it has some degree of luxury or retro meaning. It will most likely be used for some brand/luxury wallet. Some rural village people might not understand it.
There is also a quite common jargon word "лопатник" (criminal origin).