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Welsh academic explains psychological depth of the word ‘cwtch’

19 Jan 2022 2 minutes Read
Anybody can cuddle but only the Welsh can cwtch. By Immanuel Giel (CC 1.0)

A Welsh academic has explained the psychological depth of the word ‘cwtch’.

The Welsh word, which has become part of Wales’ national identity, broadly translates to “hug” in English, but its meaning that runs far deeper than that.

Doctor Manon Jones, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Bangor University was asked about its significance after the word, which has no literal English translation, was uttered in the UK Parliament for the very first time. Fay Jones, the Conservative MP Brecon and Radnorshire recently said it while questioning Boris Johnson in the House of Commons.

Dr Jones told The Telegraph: “What’s particularly interesting about the cwtch is that it isn’t just felt on our arms. When we embrace someone, a hormone called oxytocin is released. That’s the hormone which generates human connection and underlies trust; in simple terms, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

“Combine these physiological reactions with the receiver’s linguistic understanding of what the word ‘cwtch’ implies and that’s a potent mix for strong social bonding. No wonder the Welsh have a reputation for being a friendly and affectionate nation.”

‘What could be more Welsh than a cwtch’

Kerry Walker, Telegraph Travel’s Wales writer, said: “What could be more Welsh than a cwtch (pronounced ‘kuch’, rhymes with ‘butch’)? The English translation of ‘cuddle’ falls hopelessly short of this emotional embrace.

“There are cwtches (cubbyholes) at home, where you stash things away, and in pubs – often the cosy nook nearest the fire. Deeply ingrained in the Welsh psyche, a cwtch invokes the life-affirming bear hugs of childhood – it’s wrapping your arms around someone in a way that makes them feel safe, warm, comforted and nurtured.”


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Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

Eat your heart out English. No Hygge, no cwtch…. so sad

DWED
DWED
4 months ago

Cwtch is not a Welsh word. We know how to pronounce ‘ch’ in Welsh which is different to ‘ch’ in English. It should be spelt Cwtsh.

Jon
Jon
4 months ago
Reply to  DWED

Ie, at best ‘cwtch’ is Wenglish, but it is an unpronounceable word yn y Gymraeg – always cwtsh 👍🏻

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Cwtsh was common around Newtown and Welshpool in the 70’s (sorry Defaid, Barmouth has three other names to choose from, it was an international seaport once upon a time…see Lewis Lloyd)

stub Mandrel
4 months ago
Reply to  DWED

Does it matter? Look how many ways you can pronounce ‘eisiau’, written Welsh only approximates how it’s spoken.

arthur owen
4 months ago

Cwtch is a hwntw word for a hwntw phenomenon,us Gogs are made of sterner stuff.

arthur owen
4 months ago
Reply to  arthur owen

Actually there is a Gog version,mwytha spelt mwythau.But it can be a sexier word than cwtch.

Martyn Vaughan
4 months ago

At risk of being a pedant, it should be spelled “cwtsh”

Steve George
Steve George
4 months ago
Reply to  Martyn Vaughan

“At risk” suggests some uncertainty!

Nini
Nini
4 months ago

Cwtsh. Cwtch is unpronounceable in Welsh

Siani
Siani
4 months ago

Does it matter cwtch or cwtsh…..its the feeling that counts not the spelling.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  Siani

Yes it does matter! Nothing wrong with being a bit pedantic eh?! Give someone a cwtsh and chill 😀

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
4 months ago

Interesting that it has the double meaning — cwpwrdd tan y grisiau and a Welsh cuddle/hug. The cupboard under the stairs, incidentally, has another Welsh word — spensh, found in parts of the north of Wales, including the Wrexham area.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
4 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

“dan”, not “tan”, sori.

Shan Morgain
4 months ago

I never knew it meant a hug. In our family it’s always meant a nook, niche, curling up place, personal retreat. With connotations of safety, warmth, cosiness, a womblike experience.

Elvey MacDonald
Elvey MacDonald
4 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

… as in a cwtsh?

Martin Thomas
Martin Thomas
4 months ago

Cwtch…..lovely word with lovely meaning to us Welsh.

stub Mandrel
4 months ago

When I was a kid a cwtch was snuggling up next to my mum. Cosy, safe and content.

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