1590s, earlier burse (1550s) "meeting place of merchants," from French bourse "meeting place of merchants," literally "purse," from Old French borse "money bag, purse" (12c.), from Medieval Latin bursa "a bag" (see purse (n.)). The modern sense of "stock exchange for merchants" is by 1845, from the name of the Paris stock exchange. The term was said to have originated because in 13c. Bruges the sign of a purse (or perhaps three purses), hung on the front of the house where merchants met. Compare bursar.
updated on July 20, 2017