down comforter

meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, I visited Amazon.com and noticed that the Bedding & Bath category has "Comforter Sets" and "Duvet Cover Sets" sub-categories.

I couldn't tell the difference between the two (I've also read related WR threads), so I visited Wikipedia, which says the following:

Comforter
A bed cover, used like a blanket, that is filled with batting and is not exceptionally fluffy. It is usually reversible and machine-washable.
(The explanations continue...)

Duvet
A soft flat bag traditionally filled with down or feathers, or a combination of both, and used like a blanket. Usually not as thin as a comforter, but may be referred to as a "down comforter".

Do you AmE speakers actually call the second one a "duvet" or "down comforter"?
 
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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    BE note: Comforter AE -> eiderdown BE. Derived from 'eider' a species of duck renowned for its fluffy down.

    An eiderdown goes over other sheets and blankets. It is used in conjunction with them.
    A duvet is self-sufficient as bedclothes and is put alone on the bed.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can get duvets (a.k.a continental quilts) filled with down as well, but a PaulQ points out these are (theoretically) for use without sheets.

    Amazon.uk sells a 'down duvet' (as well as duvets filled with synthetic fibre):

    • Supreme pure Canadian goose down duvet with pure cotton casing provides the ultimate loft, warmth and lightness
    • 750 in³/oz. fill-power hypoallergenic pure down provides superior loft, warmth and lightness
    • Pure cotton 400 thread count down-proof cambric casing, double stitched, with piped edging for a soft and elegant finish
    • Baffle-box construction ensures evenly distributed down filling throughout the duvet
    • Machine washable, tumble dry on low
    The odd thìng is that the only eiderdowns they have for sale are filled with synthetic fibre, not down or feather.

    In any case, you might find this article from The Guardian useful/interesting. :)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In American English, "duvet" and "comforter" are essentially the same thing, but "duvet" is rarely used. "Comforter" is the term of choice, whether or not you specify "down."
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    BE note: Comforter AE -> eiderdown BE. Derived from 'eider' a species of duck renowned for its fluffy down.
    If "comforter" in AE means the same as "eiderdown" in BE, then what does "down comforter (which is the same thing as "duvet" according to Wikipedia) mean in BE?

    In any case, you might find this article from The Guardian useful/interesting.
    Thank you very much for this. It was quite interesting.

    In American English, "duvet" and "comforter" are essentially the same thing, but "duvet" is rarely used. "Comforter" is the term of choice, whether or not you specify "down."
    I thought that was the case. So were you like me puzzled when you saw those two categories at Amazon.com? Maybe the second category should be "Comforter Cover Sets" (instead of "Duvet Cover Sets") for the sake of consistency?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I've heard "duvet cover" quite a bit in American English. Maybe that's because "comforter cover" is a mouthful. ;)
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    When Amazon names products, they often deliberately use several names or words that will ensure search engines will locate them no matter where in the English-speaking world the customer is located or what their personal linguistic preference is.

    Searching for [ down comforter ] on Amazon.co.uk, I'm offered several items including:

    comforter duvet; comforter; goose down comforter duvet down quilt; quilt/duvet; etc


    This is further complicated by the fact that Amazon sells many products manufactured and packaged in different parts of the world.
     
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    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Maybe that's because "comforter cover" is a mouthful. ;)
    Oh...very interesting!

    When Amazon names products, they often deliberately use several names or words that will ensure search engines will locate them no matter where in the English-speaking world the customer is located or what their personal linguistic preference is.
    Yes, but they weren't product names. They were category names Amazon chose.

     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think the word comforter is (now) used in two settings: 1) something you add on top of existing sheet+blanket bedclothes for extra warmth as needed and (more recently and overlapping with the meaning of duvet) a padded item that gets inserted into a sheet cover and replaces the bedclothes in 1). A duvet has always been the latter.

    I grew up with the word eiderdown as having the same function as 1) above (although rarely filled with eider down, more like duck or goose down - synthetics were not common back then!). A counterpane sometimes sufficed if it was not too cold, although those were usually just decorative covers (like bedspreads).
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you very much for the explanations, Julian. I didn't know any of that. And the word "counterpane" is new to me. :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    If "comforter" in AE means the same as "eiderdown" in BE, then what does "down comforter (which is the same thing as "duvet" according to Wikipedia) mean in BE?
    The word "comforter" (in this sense) is not used. (I think some people refer to a baby's dummy as "a comforter".)

    The author of the Wikipedia article seems to have an American bias. Eiderdown and duvet are quite distinct in BE.

    counterpane, (I call it a quilt)
    OED:
    Etymology: An alteration of the earlier "counterpoint."

    The outer covering of a bed, generally more or less ornamental, being woven in a raised pattern, quilted, made of patch-work, etc.; a coverlet, a quilt.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The word "comforter" (in this sense) is not used. (I think some people refer to a baby's dummy as "a comforter".)

    The author of the Wikipedia article seems to have an American bias. Eiderdown and duvet are quite distinct in BE.
    :thumbsup:
    I had not encountered the word "comforter" in this context until I left the UK.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    The word "comforter" (in this sense) is not used.
    Yes, I know. My question was misleading. I wanted to ask:
    If "eiderdown" is the BE equivalent for "comforter", then what is the BE equivalent for "down comforter (which is the same thing as "duvet" according to Wikipedia)"?

    But I think the question is no longer important...


    Duvet is common in this part of Canada (Ontario).
    So is the term "comforter" (as part of bedding) not used in Canada?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yes, I know. My question was misleading. I wanted to ask:
    If "eiderdown" is the BE equivalent for "comforter", then what is the BE equivalent for "down comforter (which is the same thing as "duvet" according to Wikipedia)"?
    I think that we have established that a comforter can mean either an eiderdown (placed on top of sheets and maybe blankets) or a duvet (or 'continental quilt' as it was known) which, as I mentioned above is in theory used without sheets, but if you read the comments in The Guardian article I linked to you will see that many Brits (including myself) prefer to to use it with sheets.
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I think that we have established that a comforter can mean either an eiderdown (placed on top of sheets and maybe blankets) or a duvet
    I think so. I'm afraid my brain is no longer working properly at this time of the night/morning, so excuse my misunderstanding, misleading comments, etc.... :cool:
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    I blame Quebec....
    Tut, tut! Like the British use of en-suite and cul-de-sac, even if the word duvet is of French origin, the preferred word in French for the relevant bedding items is a different word altogether.

    If you go to Amazon.fr and search (a) for "duvet"; and (b) for "coette", you will see what I mean.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I had always thought that 'duvet' was Swiss French, so I had a quick look around. Wiktionary confirms it (and suggests it is used in Belgian French as well):

    duvet m (plural duvets)

    1. (uncountable) down (soft, fine feathers)
    2. down, fuzz (on face, peach, etc)
    3. (down-filled) sleeping bag
    4. duvet, continental quilt
    5. (Belgium, Switzerland) eiderdown
    And see this link (www.lehner-versand.ch/fr) in Swiss French. As we are not allowed to post in another language I will translate a sentence written at the bottom of the page:

    In Swiss French we use the word 'duvet' where the French use the word 'couette'which derives from the old French word 'coute'.
     
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