What does cwtch mean in Welsh? In short, it either means a cubby hole or a cuddle in Welsh. But there’s so much more to the meaning of cwtch than just a dictionary definition.
Here’s our heartwarming guide to Welsh word for cuddle.
What does cwtch mean in Welsh?
To the uninitiated, cwtch does not sound like a pleasant word. It sounds too similar to words such as itch, witch and crotch.
Yet despite the alarming absence of vowels, it is actually a word of love.
Not passionate, painful love, the sort that leaves two teenagers in a tomb in Italy.
No, a warm, enveloping, safe love.
One born of friendship, family and an open spirit towards mankind. A shared moment of tenderness on one of those days when the milk of human kindness is fresh, frothy and white, not spilled and sour on the conveyor belt at the supermarket.
How do you pronounce the word cwtch?
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.
Did the Welsh invent a new hug?
So what makes a cwtch different from a normal hug?
Hugs can seem bear-like and borderline aggressive. They can bowl someone over or squeeze out the air from someone’s chest. However well-meaning the hugger is to the huggee.
A cwtch doesn’t do that. A cwtch is smaller, safer, contained, careful and cosy.
Cwtch definition: what is a cwtch?
While often described as the Welsh word for cuddle, a cwtch is a smaller, safer kind of hug. Or, alternatively, a small cubby hole or hiding place.
The other meaning of the word, a cwtch as a cubby hole or small place, explains this is in a different way. It’s a place to store things safely. A hiding place.
A cuddle can seem a bit twee, or have unwanted romantic overtones. A cwtch isn’t like that. Above all else, a cwtch is warm and comforting. It is safe. It is home.
And so, I can’t quite agree with the Oxford English dictionary definition, which is to be held close in somebody’s arms in a loving way; to hold somebody in this way. Although, interestingly, they do quote Elizabeth Taylor as having used the word when talking about Richard Burton.
What does tooty down for a cwtch mean?
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.
Is Cwtch a Welsh word or is it English slang? Is it Wenglish?
Technically speaking, linguists would agree that ctwch is a Welsh word AND one that has passed into Wenglish.
What is Wenglish? A pattern of speaking English practised by the Welsh. It’s not a language in itself, it’s a kind of slang or regional dialect. So, it’s not an English word but it is used by English speakers who are also Welsh. It’s Welsh English.
Not everyone who is Welsh speaks Welsh. The majority speak English as a first language, with varying levels of proficiency in Welsh after that. The vast majority of Welsh speakers, however, are also fluent in English.
Understandably, some words have passed back and forth, from the Welsh language into the English language and vice versa. And many of the ones that have travelled well, involve those of greetings and love.
Cariad means sweetheart. Bore da means hello.
It’s fun to learn a few Welsh words before planning a trip to Wales like this. And then, provided you know them well enough, it’s fun to give someone a cwtch.
How do you use the word cwtch?
It’s easy. Come over here for a cwtch. Or would you like a cwtch?
Finding the Word Cwtch Across Wales
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Once you spot the word once, you’ll find it everywhere as you travel across Wales. In hotels, in gift shops and on billboards. The word suits gifts for people you love, along with other loving Welsh terms like cariad.
- Cwtch is also the name of a gastronomically sumptuous restaurant in Britain’s smallest city. (St David’s, since you ask.) They serve potted Solva crab, followed by a Cwtch Sparkle. It’s prosecco with…wait! Why should I spoil the surprise? Head there and have one yourself!
- The gorgeously humorous Taffywood posters bring Welsh versions of the classics, like “50 Shades of Hay,” “Apocalypse Now in a Minute” and “Cwtch Me if You Can.”
- Enjoy this heartwarming cwtch cookie cutter and bring the goodness home time and again!
- Remember your trip to Wales with this journal: “Anyone can cuddle, but only the Welsh can cwtch.”
- And make people feel welcome in your home with this Cwtch sign from Longtide Studio on Etsy.
Read more about travel in Wales
- The Perfect Itinerary for Three Days in North Wales
- Things to do in Pembrokeshire – Adrenaline and Puffins
- 21 Fun Things to do in Cardiff – enjoy Europe’s youngest capital, found in South Wales!
- Find Things to do Near Fishguard, the Hollywood Cove in West Wales.
- The best Wales road trip itinerary: how to see Wales in two weeks.
16 thoughts on “What does cwtch mean in Welsh? A new way to hug from Wales.”
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.
Yes, me too!
Bore Da doesn’t mean hello. Sut mae is the greeting used for hello. It is pronounced as shwmai. Bore da is good morning ( bore is morning, da is good), prynhawn da is good afternoon (prynhawn is afternoon, da is good), nos da is good night (nos is night, da is good).
True enough. In my experience, where people tend to say hello in English, I tend to hear Bore Da. Perhaps because I’m always up early in the morning ;-)