Words Not in English: French for a Cuddly Friend

Words Not in English: French for a Cuddly Friend

Perhaps you know that I am a passionate advocate for cuddly friends. On a particularly stressful day in high school, a friend gave me a stuffed penguin, and carrying my new friend around made me feel just as fuzzy as the companion in my hug. So I kept it up.

When I go away for the weekend, I tend to bring Bunny, but this time in Paris, I did not. Arriving at my first host’s chic flat, I noticed a new addition to her pillow: a small bear with a Burberry bow around its neck. She then expounded upon the many benefits of such a companion, making me regret my decision to leave my Friends behind.

Later, walking down Parisian streets with my second host, we cooed over a small child in a stroller, clutching a soft toy. And then I learned a new word.

Since moving to the UK, where “stuffed animal” connotes taxidermy, I have struggled to find a term for my favourite toys – they’re not toys, they’re animals, beings… – so “cuddly friend” has been the closest I have found. Monkey and I refer to my collection as The Friends.

Le doudou!

A “doudou” is more than just a child’s cuddly toy – it represents a special, close bond between a child and a cherished object. Like a “security blanket”, but in the form of a toy, a mother’s scarf, or, as my sister dubbed her favourite pacifier, her “passy”. Something that receives many, many hugs.

As the weekend went by, I felt the absence of my own doudous, so when my flight was delayed at Charles de Gaulle, fate rewarded me: purchasing a snack, I found Lady and the Tramp. I had been considering adopting such Friends during my last visit to Disneyland, but none of their recreations were quite right. These, however, were perfect. And made me instantly happy.


Now, may I meet your doudous, s’il vous plaît?


P.S. Why you should bring a cuddly friend to tea

  • You’re so cute 😉 I can totally relate. When I was little, I had a “doudou” called Bärli (a german diminutive for bear), a small teddy my mom had made out of a terrycloth-washcloth for a head and some red and white checkered fabric for the body. About every two years she would add a layer of fabric so it never wore out 😉
    Now I have Paulchen, a big once-white teddy who’s been with me for ten years now. He goes everywhere I go and I use him as a pillow when I travel and even at home.

    • awww I love how well Bärli was taken care of!

      • Once I spent the weekend at my grandma’s. On Friday afternoon I realized I’d forgotten Bärli, so my grandma and I went out and bought a teddy that was similar. It was kind of okay for one night, but my mom had to come by on Saturday and bring me Bärli (and she did that despite the 45-minute drive). She knew how important he was to me 😉

  • French Canadians refer to stuffed animals as toutou. A doudou in Canada is a child’s blanket.