Snuggling and cuddling and loving and protecting and safeguarding and claiming, all rolled into one. There is an element of intimacy, earnestness and ownership in this Welsh word (recently adopted into the OED) that the closest English equivalents, "cuddle", "snuggle" and "hug" lack.
A cwtch creates a private safe place in a room or in two peoples hearts. Cwtching is strong affection made manifest and can apply to lovers, or a parent and child. It is also possible to give a respected associate a non-romantic cwtch. In that scenario, a cwtch would be a heartfelt hug.
Here are some examples from "Talk Tidy: The Online Home of Wenglish" http://www.talktidy.com/
A much loved and much used local word having a number of uses:
(a) The coal cwtch, or the cwtch under the stairs/cwtch dan star - a storage place: derived from the Welsh 'cwt'.
(b) To keep concealed; "Keep that cwtched by there now - don't want anybody to see it... "
(c) Lie down, as in the order to a dog - "Go (and find your) cwtch!"
(d) To be fondled and snuggled up in an especially loving way "Cwtch up to your mam now". A child nursed "Welsh fashion is well and truly being 'cwtched'
(e) To warn off (now seemingly obsolete in local usage); "Bar cwtch, bar cwtch, don't come to my cwtch" A warning issued by children to others when out blackberry picking.
Following are some excerpts from an article on the adoption of the word "cwtch" to the concise Oxford English Dictionary. Contains information on the word's origins, some of which contradicts the information provided by Talk Tidy.
icWales.co.uk: The National Website of Wales
English dictionary realises benefits of a cwtch
Aug 11 2005
Molly Watson, Western Mail
IT'S one of the nations's favourite words, and symbolises that warm feeling that only closeness to a loved one can create.
Now we each have another reason to give someone a cwtch today, after the word was entered in the concise Oxford Dictionary of English for the first time.
So whether you are curled up on the settee, having a lie-in, or as our picture shows, admiring Rodin's Kiss statue (perhaps it should be renamed Rodin's cwtch), why not make time to give someone special a little cwtch.
In the dictionary 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.
...The word has its origins in the Middle English word "couche" which meant a resting or hiding place. It was then adopted into the Welsh language to mean a cupboard. But Mr Shearing said the word's origins also lie in the french word "coucher" which means to lie down. There are also early recordings of people telling their dogs to "cwtch in the corner". But during this century the word has also taken on the meaning to hug.
...The first recorded use of cwtch in English was during the 1920s and Elizabeth Taylor was also recorded as saying about Richard Burton, "I just want to go and cwtch him."
(Cultural historian Peter Stead): "I have always used it in both its senses, a cupboard and a hug. When I first met my wife I often used to say, 'let's have a cwtch' and she was always very amused by it. And since then it's become part of our domestic life.
..."I think we are an emotional and sentimental nation of people. We do like hugging and we are very tactile not only with family but in public life as well. When I am meeting a friend, even if its a politician, we will often hug. The world definitely needs more cwtching."
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