What does cwtch mean in Welsh?

By Abi King | Western Europe

Jul 23
Puffin on Skomer Island Pembrokeshire

What does cwtch mean in Welsh? Go looking for puffins on Skomer Island to find out…

What does Cwtch mean in Welsh?

To the uninitiated, cwtch does not sound like a pleasant word. It bears – perhaps – too much similarity to words such as itch, witch and crotch.

Yet despite the frightening absence of vowels, it is actually a word of love.

Not passionate, painful love. You know, the sort that leaves two teenagers dead in a tomb in Italy.

No, a warm, enveloping, safe love.

One born of friendship, family and an open spirit towards mankind on one of the days when the milk of human kindness is fresh, frothy and white.

Not spilled. Not sour. And not forgotten on the conveyor belt at the supermarket.

Here’s What Cwtch Means in Welsh

Cwtch – pronounced a little like “butch” – doesn’t have a direct English translation. It usually means a cuddle but others describe it as a kind of safe place, rather like its cheery cousin hygge in Denmark.

Cwtch: A Tasty Restaurant in Britain’s Smallest City

It’s also, as I found out last weekend, the name of a gastronomically sumptuous restaurant in Britain’s smallest city. (St David’s, since you ask. And yes, check it out if ever you get the chance. Especially the potted Solva crab. And have a Cwtch Sparkle for me. It’s prosecco with…wait. Why should I spoil the surprise? Head there and have one yourself!)

As I roamed around the raw and rugged cliffs of Britain’s only Coastal National Park, scrunching toes through sand and stone and straw-parched grass, I thought how perfect the word cwtch seemed to be.

Like much of the country, it doesn’t dazzle when read about from afar. But when you get up close. When you live it and know the reality…both its sentiment and ancestry hail from among the most beautiful things on earth.

Disclosure: tooty down for a cwtch means something like “bend your knees low enough so I can give you a hug.” It’s a phrase my grandmother used to say to me when I wore a younger girl’s clothes.

The other disclosure: I visited Pembrokeshire this time in association with Visit Wales. I’ll leave you to decide which relationship influenced me more…

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Kirsten says:

    Wales through your lens is simply beautiful and I love this new word. For the life of me I can’t pronounce it but its meaning is oh so important to me. (And the puffin!!)

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, I’ll have to give you a cwtch and a pronunciation lesson the next time I see you! ;-)

  • Melissa says:

    If your goal was to make readers feel warm and fuzzy about Pembrokeshire, you’ve done your job. Your photos and description make it look and sound like a warm, welcoming, enchanting kind of place.

    • Abi King says:

      Hmm…I suppose if anything I wanted to balance out what people think about the place. It seems to me that Wales’ gritty, industrial side is all anyone hears about. And while it’s definitely there, it’s not the whole story…

  • Sophie says:

    Araf. That’s the Welsh word I’ve seen the most. I like it.

    • Abi King says:

      Slow?! I remember thinking that “gwasanatheau” was a place just after the Severn Bridge. It actually means “services”…

  • Beth | Besudesu Abroad says:

    Just reading about the word (despite never hearing it before) made me feel warm and cuddly… thanks! :)

  • Hogga says:

    that cow looks like he
    s laughing

    • Abi King says:

      I was actually pretty scared as his “laughing” eyes appeared on the horizon. My legs were spent by then and I didn’t fancy my chances of running away if he decided to go for me…

  • Gayla says:

    The photos are lovely! I hope to visit Wales someday…

  • Carmen says:

    When we were little and went for walks/rambles in the woods and needed to relieve ourselves, we would also tooty down for that. I still use tooty down, meaning to squat.

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