Yesterday I went to an outdoor Monsieur Periné concert, and there were tons of bean bag chairs in the grass for concertgoers to plop down on. Between the five of us, we managed to grab three bean bags and then smoosh ourselves into them. Remember when there was just nothing cooler than a bean bag chair? Bean bags, waterbeds, lava lamps–the stuff kids’ fantasies are made of.
So, how do you say a bean bag chair in Spanish? It beats me . . . well, it was beating me, until I beat it back. I kept hearing my friends say puf this, puf that, and I felt disconcerted. Wait, are you telling me you call this thing a puf? And they did. Wait, are you telling us you call this thing a bean bag? A bolsa de fríjoles? Yeah, I was one to talk. ¡Puf! What a great, onomatopoeiac word! Though I think the name doesn’t refer to the sound it makes when you sit on one but rather its puffiness.
The word’s universally used everywhere, with a few regional variants tossed in–fiaca in Argentina, pera in Chile, etc. A puf can also be a hassock (?) or ottoman, which moonlight under the names of pouf or pouffe. Flouting the conventions of the Spanish translations for other bags like a sleeping bag (un sleeping, or un saco de dormir) or an airbag (un airbag in Spain, una bolsa de aire in the Americas), a bean bag chair is neither un bean nor un bean bag nor una bolsa de fríjoles. It’s a puf–take it or leave it. Though who leaves a puf? Not I.
Also, I can’t quite remember, but I feel like poofy can also be used to mean smelly-? I think I said this as a kid, but I’m really fuzzy. Kind of like pee-yoo! Words that have long since gone poof! from my vocabulary, but at least they’re being replaced by new ones.