A bed with a duvet
  • A duvet (UK: /ˈdv/ DOO-vay, US: /dˈv/ doo-VAY;[1][2] from French duvet [dyvɛ] 'down'), usually called a comforter or (down-filled) quilt in American English,[3][4][5] and a doona in Australian English,[6] is a type of bedding consisting of a soft flat bag filled with either down, feathers, wool, cotton, silk, or a synthetic alternative, and is typically protected with a removable cover, analogous to a pillow and pillow case. The term duvet is mainly British,[7] especially in reference to the bedding; rarely used in US English, it often refers to the cover. Sleepers often use a duvet without a top bed sheet, as the duvet cover can readily be removed and laundered as often as the bottom sheet.
  • Duvets (known there as eiderdowns, in translation) originated in rural Europe[citation needed] and were filled with the down feathers of ducks or geese. The best quality feathers are taken from the eider duck, which is known for its effectiveness as a thermal insulator. Prior to the uptake of the duvet as a popular bedding option in Britain from the 1970s onwards, the British "eiderdown", while also a feather-filled object, was essentially thinner than its "continental" equivalent and was used on top of a regular sheet and blankets for extra warmth when needed, and thus did not simplify the process of making the bed.

Name edit

The word duvet is of French origin, meaning "down". Its first known mention in English came in 1759, when Samuel Johnson used it in one of The Idler series of essays.[8] Duvets are often more commonly known by other names outside of Europe.

Australia and Europe edit

1974 Kimptons doona advertisement in the Canberra Times

Originally called a continental quilt, duvets are commonly referred to in Australia by the generic trademark doona. The Doona brand of duvets were originally manufactured by the Melbourne-based textile company Kimptons and became popular in the 1970s,[9] with the brandname eventually becoming a generic term in Australian English.[10] After a series of mergers and acquisitions, Tontine Group has held the Doona trademark since 1991.[11][12] Kimptons' adoption of the term "doona" is generally held to be from the Danish "dyne" (pronounced du-neh), meaning eiderdown, originally from the Norse "dýna".[13] The word occurs in similar form also in Swedish and Norwegian; elsewhere other variants are also found such as "dunyha" in Hungarian[14] and also, with the same meaning, in Romani or Romany, the language of the travelling Romani people of Europe.[15]

Asia edit

In Asian countries like India and Pakistan, duvets are known as "ralli quilts" or razai.

Americas edit

In American English, a duvet may be called a comforter; however, comforter is generally used to refer to a slightly different type of bedding that is not as thick, does not have a cover, and is often used over a top sheet.

History edit

Records show the earliest duvets were made in China, around 3000 B.C. From Viking times[timeframe?], duvets of eider (duck) down were ussed by people on the northern coast of Norway.[citation needed] In the 15th century, featherbeds (mattresses) were used by rich monarchs in continental Europe and in England, though not by their courtiers.[16] From the 16th century, wealthy people all over continental Europe began buying and using feather duvets.[citation needed]

Feather duvets came late to England. Samuel Pepys slept under one on 9th September 1665 while visiting his friend Captain George Cocke,[17] whose wife was from Danzig.[18] Paul Rycaut was among the first to try to promote the duvet in England. Around 1700, he sent six-pound bags of down to his friends with instructions, warning that "the coverlet must be quilted high and in large panes, or otherwise it will not be warme".[19][8] He also tried to sell them without success.[8]

In the mid-18th century, Thomas Nugent, a Briton on a grand tour then passing through Westphalia, observed with surprise:

There is one thing very particular to them, that they do not cover themselves with bed-clothes, but lay one feather-bed over, and another under. This is comfortable enough in winter, but how they can bear their feather-beds over them in summer, as is generally practised, I cannot conceive.[20]

Feather coverings came to be used in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century,[19] just as feather mattresses became common,[16] and were unsurprisingly known as "continental quilts".[19] They were not, however, universal. Of a British traveller in Germany in the 1930s, it was said that "She even learned to like feather quilts ('they don't seem to know about blankets – perhaps they didn't have them in the middle ages')".[21] Duvets remained uncommon in Britain until the 1960s.[8]

Duvets are the most common form of bed covering, especially in northern Europe. They became popular throughout the world in the late 20th century.[22] They are reported as being introduced to Britain by Sir Terence Conran who sold them in via his London Habitat store commencing in 1964; Conran had encountered them in Sweden in the previous decade and believed that they offered an alternative to the traditional, cumbersome British method of bed-making that involved a top sheet, blankets, with sometimes also a thinner (British style) "eiderdown" on the top for extra warmth.[23] British users gradually came to prefer the style of sleeping under a duvet for the freedom of movement it offered and the reduced feel of weight on the body, in addition to the simplification of the bed making process.[5]

Description edit

A duvet without a cover, "quilted high and in large panes"

A modern duvet, like a sleeping bag, may be filled with down or feathers of various quality and cost, or silk, wool, cotton, or artificial fibers such as polyester batting. Duvets can be made warmer than blankets without becoming heavy, and thereby can reduce the complexity of making a bed,[8] as they can be used without additional blankets, quilts or other bed covers. Although bed making is indeed simpler using a duvet than its traditional "sheet plus blankets" equivalent, this may come at a cost: since a duvet is, by its nature, a fixed thermal efficiency or "tog rating", multiple duvets, of different tog ratings, may be required to be purchased per individual bed to suit the variation in warmth as required for the different seasons if adamant on not tossing a blanket on top for added warmth.

Hygiene edit

The duvet itself, just like an eiderdown, may be cleaned much more rarely, and depending on its contents, may require specialist dry cleaning. Thus something easily washable is usually placed between the sleeper and the duvet, that can be removed and laundered as often as the bottom sheet and pillow cases. While it is perfectly possible to use top sheets, the common practice is specially made bag-covers, usually of cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. While a comforter is fundamentally the same as a duvet in terms of construction, it is used somewhat differently. In the United States, comforters are used on top of the flat sheet, often without a cover.

Thermal performance (tog rating) edit

Manufacturers rate the performance of their duvets in togs (10°C difference between the outsides at 1 Watt), as a measurement of thermal insulation. This enables the purchaser to select a duvet appropriate to the season: the higher the tog rating, the warmer the duvet.

A few manufacturers have marketed combined duvet sets consisting of one 4.5 tog and one 9.0 tog. The light-weight one is for summer and the medium one for spring and autumn; snapped together, 13.5 togs is designed for winter. Manufacturers may also offer up to 15 tog duvets.

In some countries, such as France, the warmth of a duvet is rated in grams per square metre (g/m2) instead of togs. The two systems are incompatible because, for example, a 250 g/m2 polyester filling and a 250 g/m2 feather filling have the same weight but offer different levels of thermal insulation and therefore different tog ratings.[24][25] However, typical all-season sets are sold as a pair of 200 g/m2 and 300 g/m2 duvets, creating a combined 500 g/m2 winter duvet, which would therefore be expected to match 13.5 togs.[26][27]

Disadvantages edit

Duvets/continental quilts/doonas are generally marketed as providing a more comfortable, wrap-around sleep experience, better freedom of movement for the sleeper, and easier/quicker bed making compared with the traditional "sheet and blankets" approach commonly found in the U.K. prior to their adoption. They do, however, come with some disadvantages, namely:

  • The best duvets (filled with either 100%, or a high percentage of down) are expensive; cheaper equivalents (filled with either 100%, or a high percentage of feather, or a synthetic filling) are either heavier, or less comfortable for the same tog rating
  • Duvets filled with feathers and/or down cannot be machine washed at home, but require specialist care
  • Duvets tend to come in a fixed tog (warmth) rating, so a winter-grade duvet may be too warm for summer use, and vice versa
  • Not all down is ethically produced (being a product of animal farming); certified ethically produced down products generally cost more
  • Some persons have allergies to products filled with feathers and/or down; for these, synthetic fillings are recommended.

This site[28] details the particular pros and cons of many types of duvets.

Standards and sizes edit

Modern manufacturing conventions have resulted in a large number of sizes and standards.

In popular culture edit

In the story The Princess and the Pea, published in 1835, H.C. Andersen wrote about a princess lying on ten eiderdown duvets.

An eiderdown is mentioned in the Pink Floyd songs Julia Dream, Flaming and A Pillow of Winds.

The term "duvet day" is used in some countries to describe an allowance of one or more days a year when employees can simply phone in and say that they are not coming in to work, even though they have no leave booked and are not ill. The provision of this benefit became fashionable in the late 1990s with many larger employers in the UK.[29]

In the 1999 American film Fight Club, Tyler Durden gives a speech in which he describes duvets as pretentious blankets:

Do you know what a duvet is? [...] It’s a blanket. It’s just a blanket. Then why do guys like you and I know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Jones, Daniel (2011). Roach, Peter; Setter, Jane; Esling, John (eds.). Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-15255-6.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  3. ^ "duvet". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  4. ^ "duvet: Meaning and Definition of". Infoplease. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  5. ^ a b "Duvets v eiderdowns – the royal household takes it to the mattresses". The Guardian. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  6. ^ "Doona, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2022-04-29. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  7. ^ "duvet". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. n.d. Retrieved 2022-02-15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 22, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  8. ^ a b c d e "Almost 300 years without a duvet". BBC News. 2015-12-25. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
  9. ^ Thomas, Tony. "'MR DOONA' WAKES TO ELECTRONICS". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Meaning of Doona in English". Cambridge Dictionary. Archived from the original (web page) on 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  11. ^ "History of Pacific Dunlop Ltd" (PDF). Ansell. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-10. Retrieved 2006-12-08.
  12. ^ "THE TONTINE STORY". Tontine Group. Archived from the original (web page) on 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  13. ^ "dyne" (web page). ordnet.dk. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  14. ^ Kiséry, István (2006). Hungarian-English dictionary. Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 103. ISBN 9789630583589.
  15. ^ Jan Yoors, who travelled with the European Romani as a boy before the Second World War, writes in his 1967 memoir "The Gypsies": "[as a 12-year old, in 1934] I gratefully accepted Nanosh's invitation to share his sleeping stead, together with his many brothers, between two enormous eiderdowns ... Suddenly a little Gypsy boy at the other end of our dunha (eiderdown) turned around with a pull ... [when] I awoke late in the morning ... most dunhas had been removed and stacked away inside the wagons." (Yoors, "The Gypsies", pp. 17-19).
  16. ^ a b "Straw mattresses, chaff beds, palliasses, ticks stuffed with leaves". Oldandinteresting.com. 9 January 2008.
  17. ^ "...to bed; where, though I lay the softest I ever did in my life, with a downe bed, after the Danish manner, upon me...". Diary of Samuel Pepys, 9 September 1665
  18. ^ "...Captain Cocke and his lady, a German lady, but a very great beauty...". Diary of Samuel Pepys 22nd November 1661.
  19. ^ a b c "Featherbeds, duvets, eiderdowns, feather ticks - history". Oldandinteresting.com. 2006.
  20. ^ Nugent, Thomas (1749). The grand tour. Vol. 2 (first ed.). London: S. Birt. p. 109.
  21. ^ Julia Boyd, Travellers in the Third Reich, Elliot and Thompson Limited, London, 2017, ISBN 978-1-78396-381-2, p. 67
  22. ^ "History of Featherbeds & Duvets". Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  23. ^ "The Secret History Of: The duvet". The Independent. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  24. ^ "Which weight should I choose?". Devon Duvets. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  25. ^ Galloway, Zoe (27 May 2021). "How to choose a duvet: Find out what tog, filling and size is best for you". The Independent. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Couette Protection Active Anti-Acariens Végétal 4 Saisons". Dodo SAS. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  27. ^ "What does GSM stand for?". Easyrest Pillows. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Duvet Advisor". Duvet Advisor. Retrieved 7 October 2023.
  29. ^ "Duvet". Wordspy.com.

External links edit