April 02, 2020 3 min read
Cwtch is a Welsh language word and is one of a few words that are used by Welsh speakers on a daily basis but is also used by English speakers without any translation. Another similar type of word is 'Hiraeth'. In a UK wide survey, cwtch emerged as Wales' favourite word!!
Cwtch (pronounced 'kutch', to rhyme with 'butch') is the Welsh word for a special sort of cuddle or hug, but it's also so much more than that. Its second meaning is a cubbyhole or cupboard; a small space in which to store things safely. Hiraeth, another difficult word to translate means homesickness (Click for more information).
Cwtch is used both as a noun and a verb. A person can give a 'cwtch' (a cuddle) to someone else but you can also ask a person 'to cwtch up'. You can even explain that someone is 'cwtching' someone else! Here are some examples of the meaning of the word cwtch...
When you give someone a cwtch, it brings a safe haven and a sense of home.
In September 2020, a customer reviewed a FelinFach tapestry blanket (see all reviews) and her review said "Beautiful - Soft, sumptuous, cwtchy. Perfect.". That makes the word cwtch an adjective too!!!
The word cwtch has been heard on television not least by the world famous rugby referee, Nigel Owens. Nigel a Welsh speaker, famously shamed some brawling rugby players on national TV when he said: “If you want a cwtch, do it off the field, not on it”. Also the phrases, "anybody can cuddle but only the Welsh can cwtch" and "hugs are for everyone; cwtches are only for a few, very special people" have entered everyday usage in Wales.
On 10th August 2005, the word Cwtch was added to the Oxford English Dictionary which gave the word a new found status. The dictionary said "Cwtch, which has long been a familiar word in the Welsh language, was given two definitions: noun (Welsh) 1. a cupboard or cubbyhole. 2. a cuddle or hug. It joined 128 new words and phrases which were added to the latest edition. Nicholas Shearing, senior editor on the new words group of the Oxford English Dictionary, a 20-volume series which records all the words ever to have entered the English language, said the word had a long history in the Welsh language, but is now equally popular among speakers of English".
Does this word have any history or background... Well, the the Urban Dictionary claims that the "word has its origins in the Middle English word "couche" which meant a resting or hiding place…’ If that's true, the Welsh language seems to have 'borrowed' it and expanded it's meaning significantly to where it is today!!
A similar Danish word, Hygge, pronounced hue-ga, loosely translates as cosiness but like Cwtch seems to have a wider meaning. Linked to the word “hug”, Hygge has a sense of encirclement, of boundaries, of a safe space. It’s about a feeling of well-being, about quiet enjoyment, whether through time spent with close friends or family. Like cwtch, hygge has entered into English in an untranslated form.
Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets and the iconic Welsh Tapestry blankets which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool and Global Welsh.
Last updated 12th September 2020
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