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March 24, 2008

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I never knew 'duvet' until I went to Germany and slept under one, but now I have one so it is definitely in my vocabulary. :)

As for 'perk', I had no idea it came from BE; I'm sure I heard it on regular American network TV before I entered the professional world, and definitely still hear it now.

The word 'duvet' appeared in England in the 1970's when we started sleeping under them as a practical alternative to sheets and blankets. I think the idea originated in Scandinavia where they are rated by their 'tog' value. [Quote... "Duvet warmth is measured by Tog ratings - the higher the tog, the warmer the duvet. Whilst 4.5 or 6 tog offers summer warmth, 15 tog offer maximum warmth."]

I'm interested to see that American's use comforters; we tend to grow out of them around the age of five or six. To we Brits, the blanket that children cling to is the main use of the word 'comforter'... perhaps I misunderstand?

Growing up in the UK, we always referred to 'quilts' rather than 'duvets' in our family. I assumed that 'duvet' was a relatively recent Continental import. But I was wrong. Nowadays it is much more common to hear 'duvet' than 'quilt' among my friends here in London.

I don't know whether the two words ('duvet' and 'quilt') have differing social/cultural associations.

Great blog, by the way.

Over here, a quilt is something very specific: two layers of (usually) cotton fabric, sometimes patched from smaller scraps ("patchwork quilt"), and stitched together (traditionally by hand, often in a community quilting bee) with a layer of batting in between for insulation and visual interest. Quilts are sometimes used for warmth, sometimes as bedspreads that are turned down for sleeping, and sometimes as art. They are nuisance to launder and take forever to dry.

A duvet is more like a giant pillow that gets fitted into a giant pillowcase, removable for washing (brilliant idea, I must say). "Duvet" is French for "down" (the soft white stuff on a duck or goose). An American "comforter" is a poufier version of a quilt and is used without the removable, washable cover.

The child's "comforter" to which John alludes is generally called a "blanket" or "blankie" here, as in the Peanuts character Linus's security blanket.

As for "growing out of" comforters, in America, we don't "grow out of" anything. See, for example, baseball caps on non-athletic 40-year-old men, capri pants on 75-year-old women, etc.

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