Cwtch (pronounced 'kutch', to rhyme with 'butch') is an every day Welsh word for a special sort of cuddle or hug, an emotionally significant embrace. Its also means a cubbyhole or cupboard; a small space in which to store things safely. It popular use has led to the phrase, "Anyone can cuddle but only the Welsh can cwtch"!!
Cwtch is one of only a few words that are used by both Welsh and English speakers. English speakers use the word cwtch without any translation. Whilst cwtch is the standard spelling of the word, it is sometimes written as "cwtsh".
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Cwtch - a Noun and a Verb
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...
It’s the hug you give someone which shows you really care about them.
It’s the hug you give when your friend is upset.
It’s the hug you give to your significant other half.
It’s the hug you give to your pets.
It’s the hug you give to a very good friend, who you haven’t seen in a while.
It’s the hug you give your children.
It’s the hug that reassures you and makes everything okay.
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!!!
Cwtch is pronounced 'kutch' and it rhymes with the English word 'butch'.
The Cwtch versus Cwtsh Debate
If Cwtch is a Welsh word, then the pronunciation of the letter ch (ch is one letter in Welsh) should be more like a Scottish word "Loch" and not like the ch in China. It is for this reason that more welsh speakers believe that that it should be spelt Cwtsh.
Famous Examples of the word Cwtch
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. Apparently the famous actress, Elizabeth Taylor said that "I just want to go and cwtch him (Richard Burton)".
During the pandemic, the social distancing rules stopped people having a cwtch and this was referred to by many politicians. In particular, Elin Jones AM and Llywydd of the Senedd, ended a speech by saying that she wanted to give everyone a virtual cwtch.
Oxford English Dictionary
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".