Robert & Collins French and English Dictionary, Ed. 1985 gives:

lint: (US: fluff) peluches nfpl

peluche (=bouloche): bit of fluff; fluff Collins French-English Dictionary

Now, these are the definitions of lint, fluff, bobbles, and peluches sourced from WordReference English French - French English Dictionary:


(fabric fibres) (on a garment sur un vêtement) peluches nfpl : John picked some lint out of his pocket and threw it away. WordReference


(dustball, lint) (esp. on a garment sur un vêtement surtout) peluches nfpl

(on the floor par terre) mouton, mouton de poussière nm

(on the floor par terre) chaton nm

Karen swept some fluff out from under the sofa.

Le pull que j'ai acheté la semaine dernière commence déjà à faire des peluches (The sweater that I bought last week is already pilling) WordReference


n. UK, informal (fabric: pill) (tissu) peluche nf; (familier) bouloche nf

bobble vi UK, informal (fabric: pill) (tissu) pelucher⇒ vi; boulocher⇒ vi; faire des peluches loc v

My brand new jumper (BrEng)/sweater is already bobbling (BrEng)/pilling after just one wash.

Mon pull tout neuf est déjà en train de pelucher après un seul lavage.


nf (morceau de fibre d'un vêtement) bobble n

Après plusieurs passages à la machine, mon pull avait plein de peluches.

After several washes, my jumper (BrEng)/sweater was covered in bobbles (BrEng)/pills. WordReference

And so, how do the terms lint (Chiefly AmEng), fluff, and pills/bobbles (BrEng) for French peluches differ from each other?

  • 1
    @Elian: peluche seems to have two translations to English that you're confusing: (1) dustball. (2) lint. The difference is that dustballs collect on the floor under furniture, while lint is stuff that sticks to clothing. Jan 1, 2016 at 16:57
  • 3
    In AmE, 'lint' is very small, something you need to pick off a sweater (or your navel) with your thumb and index finger. 'fluff' is much more general, can be large dusty airy things can even be whipped food. A pillow that is fluffy (implied on the inside; a description of the entire object) is very comfortable; one that is linty (implied on the outside; a description of the surface) is not.
    – Mitch
    Jan 1, 2016 at 17:10
  • 2
    Probably because we'd say "I bought that sweater two weeks ago and it's already shedding" or "already pilling". Jan 1, 2016 at 17:33
  • 1
    @WS2: Americans don't use lint to mean wound dressing. So the danger is only when there's a trans-Atlantic misunderstanding. Jan 1, 2016 at 17:33
  • 2
    @WS2: this is getting pretty far afield from the original question, but we wouldn't call something raw cotton unless it came directly from the cotton plants. We use cotton balls if the cotton wool comes in a round shape. Jan 1, 2016 at 19:52

2 Answers 2


The words

bobble (mainly U.K.) and pill

generally refer to clumps on an item of clothing that are formed by fibers from that item's fabric clumping together; pills and bobbles are generally attached to fabric they form on.

The word

lint (mainly U.S.)

refers to fibers that are superficially stuck to the item, often with static electricity, but can easily be removed. This seems to be called fluff in the U.K.

  • Shor Then, what is "fluff" in the US in terms of textile?
    – Elian
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:05
  • @Elian: I don't believe we use the word fluff very much in terms of textile in the U.S., but when we do, I think it would mean the same as in the U.K. Jan 1, 2016 at 20:10

The only terms familiar in the US are lint, fluff, and pills.

Lint is some sort of unwoven fibrous material that has accumulated on fabric or some similar surface.

Fluff is any sort of "fluffy" unwoven fibrous material, usually in a heavier accumulation than typical of lint. (Light snow is often described as "fluff".)

Pills are small ball-like bits of fiber that have been created by friction against a lint-covered or loosely-woven surface. (The occurrence of this on a piece of fabric is is known as "pilling.)

(There are also "dust bunnies" which are large balls of lint/fluff/dust that accumulate, eg, under beds and other areas where airflow encourages them.)

  • @Elian - If you search for "pilling of fabric" you will get a lot of hits.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:38
  • Would saying "covered in fuzz balls" be more idiomatic? google.fr/…
    – Elian
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:40
  • @Elian - Depends on who you're talking to. "Pilling" would be more idiomatic to an adult who must deal with laundry on a regular basis, "fuzz balls" would be more familiar to a teenager, eg.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 1, 2016 at 20:45

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