A piece of furniture...

What do you call the piece of furniture below?

The answer is a little complicated. Different people use different words for it. Some call it sofa, some call it couch, some call it settee, and some give it other names.

What does it consist of?

A sofa/couch consists of two or more cushion seats, a high or low back, and usually two armrests. It is usually upholstered and is often fitted with springs and cushions.

The most common type of sofa/couch is the two-seater, designed for seating two persons, but there are three-seater and four-seater varieties too.

Where is it found?

Sofas are usually found in the living room, but they can also be found in non-residential settings such as hotels, lobbies of commercial offices, waiting rooms, and bars.

Regional variations...

Sofa /ˈsəʊfə/ is by far the more common word in British English. The second-most common word is settee /seˈtiː/ which is three times less popular than sofa. Couch /kaʊtʃ/ is the third choice.

The word couch is mostly used in Ireland, North America, South Africa and Australia. Couch is the most popular word in the USA, but the word sofa is quite common too. It is only a little less popular than couch.

There are some other words that can be more or less synonymous with sofa/couch. Here are some of them: chesterfield (Canada), divan, davenport, love seat, lounge, and canapé.

History...

The word sofa comes from Turkish and is derived from the Arabic word suffa (“wool”) which comes from the Aramaic word sippa (“mat”).

The word couch originated in Middle English from the Old French noun “couche”, which comes from the verb “coucher” meaning “to lie down”.

The word settee comes from the Old English word, setl.

Contextual support...

armrest /ˈɑː(r)mˌrest/
the part of an armchair or a seat in a car, an airplane etc, that supports your arm

upholstered /ʌpˈhəʊlstə(r)d/
An upholstered chair or sofa is covered with cloth or leather to make it more beautiful and more comfortable

spring
a long thin piece of metal in the shape of a coil that quickly gets its original shape again after you stop stretching it

is often fitted with springs
often springs are added to it

popular /ˈpɒpjʊlə(r)/
used, done or liked by many people
Her books are very popular with teenagers.

English Gym...

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5 Comments

Add a comment

  1. Blandine L

    I usually use the word “sofa”.
    My sofa is made of black leather.
    It has only one armrest on the lest side. It has four-seater because it has an angle shape. My sofa is quite old, and one of its seams is damaged. But I love it very much, because of its shape: it is ideal for a afternoon nap, or for reading. It is also very convenient for eating or just having a drink! Why more than others? Because of the leather! A sponge can just absorb the dirty marks and the smudges!

  2. Blandine L

    Should have I written:
    It’s a four-seater sofa?

  3. Reza K

    I would add two words to this collection: Loveseat and Day-bed.

    Loveseat: a small sofa for two people, in the past designed in an S-shape so that the couple could face each other. But now it’s just a two-seater sofa !

    Day-bed: a couch that can be made up into a bed. It usually has a wider seat, which makes it comfortable to sleep on.

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