Smallpen plastic seed bags
Image source: tokopedia.com (image scaled down from original)

Can I call the bags in the image above polybag? Is polybag an English word?

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    Hello! And welcome to ELL! I'm not sure if I understand your question correctly. Do you want to know the origin of the word "polybag"? Or do you want to know whether it's correct to call those bags in the picture "polybags"? Dec 1, 2015 at 15:03
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    @DamkerngT.: the latter "do you want to know whether it's correct to call those bags in the picture polybags?"
    – embio
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:07
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    @embio Have a look here.
    – Usernew
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:09
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    37 year old native U.S. English speaker here and this is the first time I've heard this word. Sounds like it comes from "polymer" meaning plastic, and "bag" though.
    – LawrenceC
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:10
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    You could say "a polypropylene (or other plastic) bag known informally as a 'polybag' " and then afterwards you can refer to it as "polybag".
    – TimR
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


I think those bags are made from polypropylene, and that's the source of the word "polybag" - however, that is not at all a common term in Australian English either (following on from @LawrenceC's comment).

Wikipedia gives some alternatives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_bag

The most common one is "plastic bag" - though that gives the impression of something much weaker than the one in your picture. I would recommend calling that something more specific like:

  • strong plastic bag
  • tough plastic bag

Polybag is certainly a commonly used word in British English for a small plastic, usually polythene, bag.

The term is more commonly used for resealable (Ziploc) bags than open bags like those of the picture. However, those in your picture would often be referred to as a polybag.

So, can you call those bags polybags? - Yes.

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