Hi there. This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between “snug,” “cozy,” and “comfortable.”
I am Zalat from Egypt. I hope you are well.
I would like to know the difference between these words, “snug,” “cozy” and “comfortable.”
Thanks a lot,
Thanks for writing to us, Zalat. All three words can mean the same thing, to describe feeling relaxed. But there are many small differences, and we can use them in different situations.
Let’s start with “comfortable.”
“Comfortable” is an adjective. If we are talking about clothes or household goods like blankets or bedding, we can call them “comfortable” if they give relaxation or physical ease.
My new bed is so comfortable that I fall asleep right away.
I love coming home and putting on a pair of comfortable pants.
We can extend the meaning of physical ease and relaxation to other areas of our lives.
“Comfortable” can mean freedom from stress or worry.
She lives a comfortable life out in the country away from the stress of the city.
The word can also mean being free of pain.
The nurse asked the patient if she was comfortable after the surgery.
It can mean having financial security.
Zeke has a comfortable income now that he started his new job.
We also have a short form of “comfortable” and that is adjective “comfy.”
She loves to get comfy on the couch and watch her favorite TV shows.
Let’s move onto “cozy.”
“Cozy” is an adjective and overlaps in meaning with “comfortable.”
Something that is “cozy” gives a feeling of comfort, relaxation or closeness.
We are going to a cozy cottage in Maine for our vacation.
We had a cozy chat at the coffee shop.
“Cozy up to” can mean to get closer to something in order to get more comfortable, especially in cold weather.
I love to cozy up to the fireplace with a good book.
And lastly, “cozy” has a special meaning as a noun in American English. It means a covering to keep drinks warm or cold, especially if they are in cans or bottles.
She keeps a variety of cozies in her kitchen for her guests’ drinks.
Let’s move onto “snug.”
There is a saying that we use often with the word, “as snug as a bug in a rug.”
This saying describes the meaning of “snug” very nicely. “Snug” as an adjective has a meaning that combines “comfortable” and “cozy” into one. It can describe a feeling of contentment, warmth and protection.
If you feel as snug as a bug in a rug, you feel warm, safe and comfortable.
“Snug” also means fitting closely together.
The tent at our campsite was snug up against the tree in the rain.
Clothing can be snug, meaning it fits close to the body.
Shoes should not fit too snug on the feet.
And finally, as a verb, “snug” means to cause to fit closely or to make snug. We get another verb “snuggle” from “snug.” We use “snuggle” more often. It means to draw physically near for comfort
My cat loves snuggling up to me in the winter, so he stays warm.
Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Zalat.
Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that’s Ask a Teacher.
I’m Faith Pirlo.
Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
relax –v. to become less tense; to become at ease
stress –n. a state of mental tension or worry; experiencing pressure
surgery –n. medical treatment in which a doctor cuts into someone's body in order to repair or remove damaged or diseased parts
income – n. money that is earned from work, investments, business, etc.
cottage – n. a small house
contentment –n. a feeling of being happy and satisfied
tent – n. a portable shelter that is used outdoors, is made of cloth (such as canvas or nylon), and is held up with poles and
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