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Posts Tagged ‘capuchon’

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I saw this sign in front of a clothing shop in Montréal. I’ve hidden the text at the top of the sign where we see one possible French name for the article of clothing this boy is wearing.

Can you guess the term on the sign?

(Don’t worry about the hood for a moment. We’re looking for a general term that covers both hooded and hoodless versions.)

Here are some clues:

  • The term is unique to the French spoken in Québec/Canada.
  • The term is related to the soft fluffiness of the material.
  • The term contains two words. The first word begins with c; the second word begins with o.

Give up? Here’s the answer! (The link points to an image — the same image, but with the text not cut off.)

Now that you know the term, do you wonder how to pronounce the second word? Oua in French sounds like wa. Ouaté rhymes with raté. Just change the r to a w sound, and you’ve got it.

What does ouaté mean, anyway? It means fleeced. It’s the adjective form of the feminine noun ouate, which is a ball of cotton wool, like the kind you might use to remove make-up or nail polish. Coton ouaté could be translated literally as fleeced cotton. The term coton ouaté can be used where English says sweatshirt.

The sweatshirt in the image has a hood (un capuchon). If we wanted to be more specific and say hooded sweatshirt, we could say un coton ouaté à capuchon. This is a possible equivalent of the English-borrowed hoodie.

Update (2 December 2015): To be more clear — when you use the term coton ouaté, people will generally assume the hoodless version, in the same way that people assume the hoodless version when you say sweatshirt in English. If you want to insist that the sweatshirt has a hood while still using the term coton ouaté, you can say coton ouaté à capuchon. A different term for a hooded sweatshirt that you can also use is chandail à capuchon.

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