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The origin of the word bedgown

The bedgown (betgwn in Welsh) was probably originally worn by the fashionable in bedrooms and elsewhere indoors in the morning as sort of dressing gown but in Wales it was worn by rural women almost everywhere except in the bedroom.

The words betgwn, becwn, begwn, bectwn, betcown, are assumed to be a Welsh phonetic spelling of the English 'bedgown'. So far, no record of the use of the term 'betgwn' has been found in any 19th century documents - generally the word bedgown is used. The earliest known use of the word 'bedgown' in records created in Wales are of court cases where people have been accused to stealing one (these late 18th/ early 19th century documents were normally written in English). The earliest uses of the term 'bedgown' by English visitors to Wales were in 1796 (Anon, NLW MS 4489), and in 1797 by Catherine Hutton on her trip to north Wales. (Hutton, Catherine, Letters written during a Tour in North Wales by Miss Hutton, of Bennett's Hill, near Birmingham, Letter XI, Caernarvon; Sept. 13, 1797. Published in the Monthly Magazine, 1816)

One of the earliest known uses of the term betgwn appears in the publication of a lecture in Welsh by Iorwerth Peate (of the Welsh Folk Museum) in 1937. ('Diwylliant Gwerin' Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1938, pp. 245-246).

The term g?n gwely (a literal translation of bedgown) is never used.

The words betgwn and becwn have been used extensively in recent publications. Huw Roberts used it in the title of his book in 2007. Indeed, many Welsh women use betgwn, even when speaking in English (especially in the phrase pais a betgwn or becwn a phais) rather than bedgown.

The term bedgown now normally refers to an article of clothing worn in the bedroom.