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Bedding Jargon Explained

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that bedding is straightforward. It’s just duvets, pillows and sheets, right? Wrong. The world of bedding goes deeper than you may have realised, and there is a plethora of bedding types to know about.

There’s all kinds of sheets, pillows and duvets, as well as variations of those variations, and understanding these terms can make shopping for bedding so much easier. If you know what to ask for and what you’re looking for, you don’t have to try and clumsily explain it and you won’t end up buying the wrong thing!

We’re going to cover types of bedspreads, names for bed sheets, and types of bed covers, so you can shop for all different types of bed covers with confidence.

Bed Linen Jargon

Let’s begin by looking at the types of bed linen that you’re likely to be looking for. We’ll start with some basics and then work our way up to some different bed covers.


The essential staple of any bed, your duvet is often referred to as a blanket or a comforter in the US. These are normally white and can be filled with wool or feather, but are most commonly filled with down (or a synthetic alternative to down). Duvet tog is a measurement of how well a duvet insulates. The higher the tog count, the warmer you’ll be at night.

Duvet Cover

This is what you put your duvet in. One end will have an opening for you to insert the duvet, and they come in an almost endless range of colours, prints, materials and styles.

Top Sheets

A top sheet, or flat sheet, lies under your duvet (but over you) to protect the duvet and its cover. They’re much more common in America than Europe.

Fitted Sheet

Sometimes referred to as a ‘bottom sheet’, this is what you put around your mattress. Most are elasticated at each end, to help them stay in place.


A bedspread is more decorative than functional. Normally made from cotton or wool, these will sit on top of your duvet and are great for decorating and bringing the colour scheme of your bedroom together.


A blanket can be used to sleep under, or to be put on top of your duvet for more warmth. Layer them up on your bed for total toastiness, or ditch the duvet for a soft blanket on a hot night.


A comforter is definitely an Americanism, but can still be bought in Europe. This is essentially a duvet cover that’s already filled with a duvet. These are available in many different styles and patterns as well.

Pillow Jargon

You thought that a pillow is just a pillow, didn’t you? Think again. Let’s look at the different pillow types that are available. These don’t actually vary that much but these types of pillows can serve different purposes, so let’s brush up.

Sleeping Pillows

Quite self-explanatory, these are pillows that you sleep on. They will usually be rectangular and come in many different varieties; goose down, memory foam, polyester and so on.

Consider whether you prefer a firm pillow or soft pillows as these are also options you can choose from.


These are for covering your sleeping pillow, and can match the pattern of your duvet cover for a complete bed set. There will be an opening on one side for you to put your pillow in.

Body Pillows

These are oversized pillow that can be the same length as your mattress. They go vertically down your bed as opposed to horizontally across. They’re particularly good for combating pain in your  back, knees and elbows. They’re also an ideal option if you like to cuddle something in your sleep!

Bolster Pillows

These are normally cylindrical pillows that are used to prop yourself up in bed. Perfect if you like to read, watch TV or simply sit up in bed. They make a pretty cool design feature too.

Throw Pillows

Otherwise known as a decorative pillow or throw cushion, these are mostly used for aesthetic purposes but do come in handy for propping yourself up or resting your head on without getting into the sheets. Mostly though, decorative throw pillows are used to make your bed look even more inviting.

Other Bed Accessory Jargon

There’s more to bedding than just sheets and pillows; here are some final terms that you may not know the meaning of.


Valances, or bed skirts, are decorative pieces of fabric that hide the box spring of the mattress. Box springs are normally not that visually appealing, so a valance gives it more of a polished look.

Throw Blankets

Excellent for adding an injection of colour to the room, throw blankets are to blankets what throw cushions are to cushions. You wouldn’t choose to sleep with it at night, but it’s good for making the bed look more inviting and to wrap yourself up in without getting under the duvet.

Mattress Toppers

A mattress topper sit on top of your mattress and is used as a way to improve the comfort of your bed. You can get these in memory foam if you want an inexpensive way of adding some foam to your sleeping set up, or in goose down for a really soft night’s sleep.

Mattress Protectors

Not to be confused with mattress toppers, mattress protectors are much thinner and while they will add a little comfort to your bed, their primary purpose is to protect the mattress while you sleep.

Ready to shop for new bedding? Browse our full range here, or see our duvet cover sets, bedspreads, and fitted sheets.

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