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Shashi Tharoor’s Word of the Week: Cwtch

The Congress leader who’s had all of us reaching for our dictionaries is committed to helping you expand your vocabulary. Read his column Word of the Week to know where this week’s word came from

columns Updated: May 17, 2019 19:03 IST
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor,cwtch,Congress
(HT Illustration: Sudhir Shetty)

CWTCH, noun: a hug, but much more intimate than a hug.

Suggested usage: Once the election results are out, many a defeated candidate will be in need of a cwtch.

Derived from Welsh and pronounced “kwutch” (almost like a sneeze that stifles a cough), cwtch features as a legitimate word in the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary. The Urban Dictionary says it connotes snuggling, cuddling, loving, protecting, safeguarding and claiming, all at once. Friends tell me you give a cwtch only to someone you have some close claim on; it is a sincere act, not a routine ritual like the PM’s hugs of startled world leaders. Strong, sincere and heartfelt affection is required for a mere hug to qualify as a cwtch. Elizabeth Taylor famously said about Richard Burton, whom she married twice (and who was Welsh), “I just want to go and cwtch him.”

The friend who introduced me to the word sent me a poem that sums it up so beautifully I can’t improve upon it:

A cwtch is a Welsh word steeped in history;

From where it came is still a mystery.

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get

But your first real cwtch you’ll never forget.

A cwtch is wondrous morning or night.

It’s always the best way to get over a fight.

As a reliever of pain it’s better than pills;

It’ll help you forget all of your ills.

A cwtch is a drug, addictive for sure;

Indulge in it once – you’ll hunger for more.

It’s more than a hug; it’s more than a cuddle;

It’s something you give to someone who’s special.

The art of cwtching has passed down through life

From parents and lovers, from a husband or wife;

The one thing for sure that I’ve learned is true

The spirit of cwtching lives on in you!

First Published: May 17, 2019 18:56 IST