gezellig, cosy

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
This word, etymologically related to a room ('zaal'), is a very common word nowadays in Dutch, too common maybe. It refers to a quality of life, I'd say, that has to do to with 'warmth' in a literal or figurative sense, i.e., friendship, but also with pleasure. But is so hard to translate (I focus on the adjective referring to an atmosphere, not a person). That aspect has not been dealt with at this forum before.

It is most often translated as "cosy" in English, often as 'pleasant' or 'enjoyable', but but in the latter ones one misses the idea of warmth. As a matter of fact, a "gezel" is a companion, someone with whom one shares one's bread - at home, I now thought.

"Chaleureux" in French is better therefore in some sense, but the idea of pleasure is not conveyed as such. "Agréable" would be a complement.

Question: do you have words in your language referring to this quality of "gezelligheid" and containing a reference to a room, or warmth (?
 
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  • anto33

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    This word, etymologically related to a room ('zaal'), is a very common word nowadays in Dutch, too common maybe. It refers to a quality of life, I'd say, that has to do to with 'warmth' in a literal or figurative sense, i.e., friendship, but also with pleasure. But is so hard to translate (I focus on the adjective referring to an atmosphere, not a person). That aspect has not been dealt with at this forum before.

    It is most often translated as "cosy" in English, often as 'pleasant' or 'enjoyable', but but in the latter ones one misses the idea of warmth. As a matter of fact, a "gezel" is a companion, someone with whom one shares one's bread - at home, I now thought.

    "Chaleureux" in French is better therefore in some sense, but the idea of pleasure is not conveyed as such. "Agréable" would be a complement.

    Question: do you have words in your language referring to this quality of "gezelligheid" and containing a reference to a room, or warmth (?
    Hallo ThomasK,

    "Gezellig", means in Romanian „social" (M) „socială" (F), „plăcut" (M) „plăcută” (F), „agreabil" (M) „agreabilă" (F) but also „călduros" (M) „călduroasă" (F); all of these adjectives reffer to a companion of life or a person in general. In the sense of warmth, a room can be „călduroasă” . An example in Dutch would be: "Het begon lekker warm te worden in de kamer" of " een kamer gezellig maken".:warn::)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The most interesting aspect to me is where the metaphors turn up. „Călduroasă” looks very similar to the French chaleureux.

    (The others refer to one's being companions (socius), I think, and to things being pleasant (plăcută). )
     

    Topsie

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    The French "chaleureux" works for the warmth (of the atmosphere), perhaps "convivial" could convey the social/friendly aspect, but I've never heard a room being described as convivial... "douillet" is often used to translate cosy.
     

    Topsie

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    People who are "douillet" (or "douillette"!) are either hypersensitive or have a low pain threshold!
    The word also means soft/warm/snug/comfortable... hence a frequent translation for cosy!
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The German "gemütlich" could be relatively good, but referring to the pleasant aspect, not the room itself.

    Some sites refer to comfortable (and variations), but I wonder if that conveys warmth, etc. Just like "bequem" in German. I thnk they mainly refer to material comfort, which one might perhaps consider as a requirement for cosiness...
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    While staying in Germany over the weekend, I was told that Germans use the word 'gesellig' with just the same meaning as the Dutch. I did not know, but I wonder whether it is not typical of the region bordering on the Netherlands.
     

    Hitchhiker

    Senior Member
    English-US
    While staying in Germany over the weekend, I was told that Germans use the word 'gesellig' with just the same meaning as the Dutch. I did not know, but I wonder whether it is not typical of the region bordering on the Netherlands.
    When I studied in Belgium I had books about the Dutch language written in English. They all said gezellig is unique to Dutch and had no exact equal in any other language. This books were written by people that had studied Germanic languages.

    I was surprised when a student from Germany, that was in Belgium, told me in German they have a similar word and it means "to be with friends'. When I first learned gezellig in Dutch I was told it meant cozy but you couldn't be alone. It had to be shared with somebody. In English cozy can be alone or even empty if describing a place or thing.

    I then went to Namibia where I learned much more Afrikaans than the Dutch I had learned in Belgium. The Afrikaans word gesellig comes from the Dutch word gezellig but the meaning seems to be the same as what the German student told me it means in German.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I am afraid/ think you are simply right. I think it is being overused in Holland, fits in well with cocooning culture, and does not very often have anything very 'deep'. I think it is like a buzz word...

    Normally, I'd say, gezellig is a quality you aim at (by organising things), but you can only refer to afterwards...
     

    Hitchhiker

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I was never really certain how to understand the Dutch word gezellig. I thought maybe the German version described as "to be with friends" might be it but the books all say the Dutch version has no exact equal in another language. I thought I might better understand it when I learned Afrikaans but that put it right back at the German meaning of the word, for me anyway.

    I remember passing through Kortrijk many times on the train from Ghent to Lille France, Gent - Rijsel.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I do think the words are not used in exactly the same way. We'd have to see about context: gezellige persons, bars, meetings, places...

    (As for my region: we would not use it around here, we have other words...)
     

    Hitchhiker

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I never did quite get it in Dutch. I think I may have heard it a few times in Antwerp when I first arrived in Europe but up until that point I had only read books. If it doesn't have the same meaning as the German word then I might be missing the meaning a bit. I think I understand it when I hear it in context though, but only for each use. I don't think I could describe it overall.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    You certainly understand the basic meaning, but I mainly meant that the 'meaning in use' might be slightly different, which might then account for the difficulty of using the word correctly. But that is guessing work. Not so very important now !
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Cosy, which I have seen spelt with a Z only in brand names, implies comfort but warmth as well only because one cannot be comfortable if one is cold. Thus the combination cosy and warm is quite common, whereas snug (snug as a bug in a rug) more often stands alone than cosy. However, one may quite easily be snug or cosy without a companion (though of course, it's much more fun with one), so neither necessarily implies company as in Dutch gezellig or German and Afrikaans gesellig. German behaglich which is also cosy does not necessarily imply company either.
    German gemütlich, famous for being difficult to translate, derives from Mut which is inter alia one's mind or emotional state (cf. English mood), which would naturally invlolve companionship, as betokened by the well known drinking song "Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit" (A toast. a toast to ??).
    In French there doesn't seem to be an exact equivalent, but I think they would use intime to describe a place selected for a lover's tryst for instance, embracing both warmth and companionship.
    In Spanish one would use acogedor (Portuguese acolhedor) for a cosy room, which literally means welcoming. To stress pleasant warmth one would use the Spanish diminutive calentito.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Woow, this is very interesting !
    - cosy and warm: one does not imply the other or does it ? Is this a pleonasm or a tautology?
    - gezellig does not strictly imply company, I think, but a certain feeling associated with pleasure, warmth (maybe comfort, but that is secondary), yes, an emotion
    - intime is a little too specific
    - Spanish acogedor (Portuguese acolhedor): I guess you are suggesting something acceuillant in French?
     

    Favara

    Senior Member
    Catalan - Southern Val.
    Catalan:
    Càlid ("warm")
    Acollidor ("welcoming")
    Agradable ("nice", "pleasant")
     
    In Greek we usually translate "cozy" with the adjective άνετος-άνετη-άνετο ('anetos m.-'aneti f.-'aneto n.) which derives from the ancient Greek noun ἄνεσις ('anesis, f.)-->relaxation, ease-aise (fr.), aisance (fr.)
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    cosy and warm: one does not imply the other or does it ? Is this a pleonasm or a tautology? Thomask

    The word warm in cosy(AE cozy) and warm does not sound redundant, as in the Irving Berlin song "Isn't it a lovely day to be caught in the rain?". It completes and intensifies the description:

    I can see the sun up high
    Tho' we're caught in the storm
    I can see where you and I
    Could be cozy and warm

    A paraphrase totally devoid of lyricism would be comfortable and out of the cold.
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finnish cosy is most usually translated kodikas (from koti = home), and it can be said about a house, a room, and also about an ambience or atmosphere.
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Incidentally, the word cosy is used in the term tea cosy, which consists of a woollen or cloth cover placed over a tea-pot to keep the tea warm, the spout and handle protruding through holes. Whether the idea was originally of making the pot comfortable, I do not know. The word cosy orignally came from chilly Scotland:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_cosy
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, in Russian there is an adjective "уютный" (uyutnyi) - "cosy", "comfortable", from the noun "уют" (uyut) - "a comfort" (a loanword "комфорт" - "komfort" - is much more formal). It goes back to proto-Slavic root "a roof", as I got from an etymological dictionary (there are some cognates in Baltic languages). Semantically these words may imply warmth, but don't contain this idea directly. The phrase "a cosy scarf" would be translated to Russian as "a warm scarf" but not as "a comfortable (уютный) scarf". Actually, this adjective can be used speaking about different PLACES only (a bed, a car, a room etc.), otherwise it would sound strange.

    There is another adjective that can mean "cosy" and "comfortable" in Russian - "удобный" (udobnyi), but its meaning is quite wide. For instance, it also can mean "easy-to-use", "handy", "convenient", "opportune". This word goes back to ancient Slavic "doba" - "an age", "a moment" (which still exists in some Slavic languages) and has nothing to do with warmth at all.

    As I mentioned above, in some context "cosy" can be translated as "тёплый" (tyoplyi, "warm").
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Incidentally, the word cosy is used in the term tea cosy, which consists of a woollen or cloth cover placed over a tea-pot to keep the tea warm, the spout and handle protruding through holes. Whether the idea was originally of making the pot comfortable, I do not know. The word cosy orignally came from chilly Scotland:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_cosy
    Great information, thanks ! I think I found one useful addition regarding cosy at dictionary.reference.com:

    Scots [colsie]; perh. < Scand; cf. Norw koselig cozy, kose seg to enjoy oneself
    @Awwal: quite interesting, but then what is the noun "уют" (uyut) - "a comfort" ? It is indeed interesting to learn about the origin as 'roof', but wht does it mean now ? I would never refer to 'a cosy scarf', but could the common meaning be: safe, protected?

    In what context could you use "удобный" (udobnyi) then? This is entirely new to me...
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    @Awwal: quite interesting, but then what is the noun "уют" (uyut) - "a comfort" ? It is indeed interesting to learn about the origin as 'roof', but wht does it mean now ? I would never refer to 'a cosy scarf', but could the common meaning be: safe, protected?
    The common meaning of the word "уют" in modern Russian is just "a comfort", "a cosiness". How could I explain what is a cosiness?.. :)

    The only related words (of course, not including derivations) are "приют" (priyut - "a shelter", "a refuge"; "an asylum") and "ютиться" (yutitsa - "to take shelter", "to huddle"; almost always is used with an adverbial modifier of place, i.e. "somewhere"). So, they have no direct semantic relation to the word "уют".
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I think my problem was the 'a': abstract nouns do not normally have a(n indefinite) determiner. I am sorry.

    But I think you are confirming the hypothesis I suggested: shelter, asylum, safety, protection. Thanks !
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think my problem was the 'a': abstract nouns do not normally have a(n indefinite) determiner. I am sorry.
    Sorry, in such cases I just use articles to mark out nouns (since "comfort" in English may be a verb, for instance). Of course, it is not very correct sometimes.
     
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