Posts Tagged ‘coton ouaté’


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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I bought 3 really cool postcards yesterday.

Feminine words are in black.
Masculine words are in blue.

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bibitte à patates (lady bug), pitou (doggie), maringouin (mosquito), coquerelle (cockroach), mouche à feu (firefly), ouaouaron (bull frog), moufette (skunk), siffleux (groundhog), minoune (kitty)

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bobettes (undies), calotte (cap), coton ouaté (sweatshirt), mitaines (mittens), soulier (shoe), tuque (tuque), froque (coat), bas (socks), espadrille (running shoe)

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bombe (kettle), cadran (alarm clock), barniques (barnacles, spectacles), bécycle (bicycle), plasteur (bandage), champlure (tap), ruine-babine (harmonica), balayeuse (vacuum cleaner), bazou (jalopy)

I’m going to give these postcards away to somebody here. There were more postcards in the series, and I wanted to buy them all and give them away, but I’d have got into trouble if I spent all my money and came home last night without the milk and bread I was supposed to buy.

I bought the postcards at Renaud-Bray, if you want to look for them yourself. Or you can buy them online from tiguidou-shop.com, including the other ones in the series. They’re cheaper online, but I didn’t check the shipping.

I also have two new DVDs from Québec with subtitles to give away. So, if you participated in the La grande séduction contest but didn’t win, I’m putting your email address back into a tuque or bas and will pull out three new winners. Two people will get a DVD, and one will get the postcards.

Check your email – I may be writing to you asking for your postal address!
_ _ _


Despite the singular forms on the postcard, barniques and bobettes are generally used in the plural.

Bécycle is pronounced bécik. Ouaouaron is pronounced wawaron.

Froque is also spelled froc. Ruine-babine is also spelled ruine-babines.

Bombe is an old-fashioned word for bouilloire. Champlure is falling out of use; you can say robinet.

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I stumbled across a TVA fashion article and video yesterday from 2011 called: On s’habille en «mou» mais avec goût!

But what does it mean to be dressed en mou?

The first paragraph on that page reads:

L’automne est synonyme de cocooning, on a besoin de se sentir bien et confortables avec des vêtements faits de matières douces et souples qu’on appelle souvent du «mou». Exit le chandail de coton ouaté et le pantalon de jogging, je vous propose du mou de bon goût, du mou qu’on osera porter à l’extérieur de la maison.

Did you guess the meaning of en mou from that paragraph (if the image hasn’t already given it away)?

des vêtements faits de matières douces et souples
clothing made of soft and flexible materials

un chandail de coton ouaté

un pantalon de jogging
sweatpants, jogging pants

If you’re wearing sweatpants and sweatshirt, or anything soft and fluffy and snuggly-wuggly, you’re dressed en mou. Makes sense: mou means soft.

The speaker in the TVA video talks about how to dress en mou without having to don the usual sweatpants and sweatshirt.

Image: Rouge FM

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