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For the song by Bôa, see The Race of a Thousand Camels.
A duvet, without a cover

A duvet (/ˈdjv/, /ˈdv/, or US /dˈv/; from the French duvet [dyvɛ] "down") is a type of bedding consisting of a soft flat bag filled with down, feathers, wool, silk or a synthetic alternative, and typically protected with a removable cover, analogous to a pillow and pillow case. 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. In British English, a duvet is also called a continental quilt, particularly in the 1970s, or now simply a quilt. In Australian English, it is also called a doona. In American English, it may be called a comforter; however, a comforter is usually a slightly different type of bedding that is not as thick, does not have a cover, and is often used over a top sheet.

Duvets originated in rural Europe and were filled with the down feathers of ducks. The best quality is from the eider duck, for its down is known for its effectiveness as a thermal insulator.


From Viking times, duvets of eider down were used by people on the northern coast of Norway. From the 16th century, wealthy people all over Europe began buying and using such duvets. In the story The Princess and the Pea from 1835, H.C. Andersen tells about a princess lying on 10 eider-down duvets.

In the mid-18th century, Thomas Nugent, an Englishman 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."[1]


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 reduce the complexity of making a bed, as they can be used without a top sheet, blankets or quilts or other bed covers. Duvets can be made warmer than blankets without becoming heavy. The duvet itself fits into a specially made cover, usually of cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. The duvet cover is removed and laundered as often as the bottom sheet and pillow cases. The duvet itself may be cleaned much more rarely, and depending on its contents, may require specialist dry cleaning.

While a comforter is fundamentally the same as a duvet in terms of construction, it is used somewhat differently. In the US, comforters are used on top of the flat sheet, often without a cover.

Regional variations[edit]

Duvets are the most common form of bed covering, especially in northern Europe. They became popular throughout the world in the late 20th century.[2]

Originally this was the standard name used across Australia. Now, across Australia, a duvet is often called a doona, which is the brand name created by Kimptons (Northern Feather). The Tontine Group acquired the trademark in 1991 when Pacific Dunlop took over the company. "Doona" is derived from the equivalent common Scandinavian term "dyne" (or dyner) and was popularized by the retailer IKEA in the 1970s.

In Asian countries like India and Pakistan, duvets are known as "ralli quilts" or razai. In some European countries, particularly in Scandinavian countries, any thick, warm blanket may be called a duvet.

Standards and sizes[edit]

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

Thermal performance (tog rating)[edit]

Manufacturers rate the performance of their duvets in togs, 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, one of approximately 4.5 tog and one of approximately 9.5 tog. The light-weight one is for summer and the medium one for autumn; snapped together, 14 togs is designed for winter.

In popular culture[edit]

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 companies in the UK.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nugent, Thomas (1749). The grand tour 2 (first ed.). London: S. Birt. p. 109. 
  2. ^ "History of Featherbeds & Duvets". Retrieved 15 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Duvet". Wordspy.com. 

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