Vivez Bien * Live Well

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Monday Musings - Couch, sofa, settee - what's in a name

I mostly hear this item of furniture referred to as a sofa or a couch, but the other day a friend referred to it as a settee, which got me wondering what the difference really was. I did some research on the web, which didn't really provide me with the right answers, but did provide me with some great entertainment which I  thought I would share with you.

Courtesy of Yahoo, here are some answers to the question "What is the difference between a couch, a sofa and a settee:

  • A couch is very similar to a sofa. Derived from Middle French, couche, a couch is an article of furniture for sitting or reclining. Sofa, taken from the Arabic suffah, is a long upholstered seat usually with arms and a back. A settee is a long seat with a back or a medium-sized sofa. So there you go. Just sit your *** down and enjoy...who really cares what the difference is.  

  • A sofa is what an English person sits upon. A couch is what an American person sits upon. A settee is what a civilised person sits upon.

  • people who use serviettes have a settee,
    people who use napkins have a sofa
    people who have clients have a couch

  • Dogs are not allowed on couches....

    you always find weird stuff down the back of your sofa.....

    Your gran has/had a settee.

    But you can, apparently, spill lager on all of them :o)

  • about $200 between each.............

  • Settee is what I call it
    Sofa and couch are normally what the posh people call them

  • I call it a sofa now!! But it was always "Settee" when I was a kid - I wouldn't call the word settee 'posh' like the first answerer lol!! I grew up in a council house and me mum was a dinner lady and me dad was a bus cleaner and everyone I knew in the street called it a "settee" We thought calling it a 'sofa' was posh lol!

  • i think they are all synonyms in general use, but wikipedia states that a sofa and a settee are a type of couch with the settee having 2.5 seats and the sofa 3. Really??? What's the point of half a seat??

  • My American friend sits on a couch.
    My Granny used to sit on a settee.

  • they're all the same when you're drunk and can't make it up the stairs...

  • A sofa is a thing in a college dorm that is old, stained and stinks.. a couch is what you burn before/during/after a WVU game, and a settee is what rich snobs have in their formal living rooms...

    Or in other words: A sofa has previously been a settee and will eventually be turned into a couch. 

  • You forgot Divan.

    We had a Divan in the house.

  • you get to know someone on a settee, proper, no hands
    you put your arms around them on a sofa while watching the tele, little more relaxed
    and you make out on a couch, tv off, music playing

  • one is the American way to say it, and two a British ways of saying it That's it really

  • Nothing! There's an English rugby supporter, crying on each of them. HaHa!

  • I have often wondered that. I call it a settee, my hubby calls it a sofa and the kids call it a couch. No wonder the flippin dog is confused when we yell at it for sitting up there.

    Perhaps you know the difference....

    Wishing you a great week ahead.

    Till next time

    Sharon x

Image sources:   1. Particular Poetry, 2. Block and Chisel, 3,4. Casa Decorada, 5 Tumblr 6. Dying of Cute 7. Tumblr 8. Ashley White Design 9. Decorare 10. Inspiration Online 11. Particular Poetry   12, Farriers 13. Inspiration Online 14. Little Green Notebook 15 Stylish Serendipity blog 16. Unknown  17. Tumblr


  1. What a great post!! Clever and interesting. I call if a sofa but I think my kids refer to it as a couch and noone refers to it as a settee...funny. All I know is that all the ones you featured above are spectacular!!

  2. Too funny, Sharon! I loved this post!!
    All best,

  3. Totally brilliant post! One of the beat I've read all year.
    Oh, and you forgot "chesterfield".

  4. In Australia we call it a Lounge and it goes in the Lounge Room (Living Room)or the Family Room.

  5. Love this post Sharon, especially the last part LOL! For the record I say couch :)

  6. Ha ha, now I'm really confused! I usually call it a sofa. I'll use settee for antique ones. But some designers call those benches. Oh, well. Someone needs to set us straight!

  7. hahaha. i really loved reading your definitions. but they are all the same to me.XD

  8. Love this post......and to make things more complicated it is called a canape here in France which in English is something you eat.....

    Leeann x

  9. Wonderful post!! No wonder its so hard to communicate with so many names for the same thing!! Too fun!! xo Leslie

  10. Great post! I was corrected by a designer friend when I had used the term couch....I was told in a very snobby way, it is a sofa! I will have to send her your post. Thanks!

  11. In Britain the upper middle class and upwards use the term 'sofa' - always. The term 'couch' is used by the middle middles, lower middles and the working class and considered VERY common! A 'settee' would be found in a formal drawing room, have a wooden frame and arms and have firm upholstery. Because a sette would be found in home belonging to the upper classes, people from that background are more likely to use the term along with the working class who worked as servants in their homes. Even today whether one says 'couch' or 'sofa' immediately reveals the background of a person in Britain along with other class revealing terms such as 'lounge' or 'sitting room', 'toilet' or 'loo', 'tea' or 'dinner' etc. There are however, many terms that are used by both the upper classes and the working class but the middle middle and lower middle classes in an attempt to separate themselves from the working class background that many came from started to use their own terms - 'serviette' instead of 'napkin' is an example of this along with 'gateaux' rather than 'cake'. And whatever you do - never make the mistake that the Duchess of Cambridge's (Kate Middleton) mother made when she met the Queen for the first time ..... She greeted the Queen by saying the dreadful 'Pleased to meet you' - it's always 'How do you do?'!! LOL! Christina.

  12. OMG too funny! Love the pics as usual:) we had a mover who called it a "coach"!

  13. Sharon this post is fun...I suppose it hasn't cleared anything up though! Ha!
    I always think of a settee as smaller in size; usually with legs and back, probably antique.
    Otherwise it is a sofa.

    Art by Karena

  14. Une très belle source d'inspiration tous ces canapés si joliment mis en scène ... Bonne journée :)

  15. Sharon I love this post. I was raised in the midwest and everyone called it a couch! I have lived in California for over 35 years and one wouldn't dare call a sofa a couch! There is definately some regionalism involved! Too funny!

  16. Loving the sofa which is outside. The garden looks beautiful. xx's

  17. What a great informative article you have here! Written and explained well! Whether one opts to have a sofa, a couch, or a settee, what matters is they find a furniture piece that completes one's living room! :)

  18. Very intersting! I need a fainting couch, STAT!!

    When we were growing up, my mom always called it a "sofa". She was from New Orleans with an Irish momma. When my friends referred to their sofa as a "couch" I always thought it rhymed with "slouch" and wasn't nearly as sophisticated as our Ethan Allen winged version (it was a monster).

    Now, middle aged, I dream of Restoration Hardware's HUGE SOHO TUFTED version, which is more like a double bed meets sofa/couch/settee/divan!

  19. I think it might relate to the origin of the word. All are of different origin. Sofa is from Turkish, couch is from French while settee may be of Indian origin, possibly a corruption of settle. In Australia, the first two terms are commonly used regionally. When I married, my husband referred to it as a sofa and I referred to it as a couch. My three year daughter referred to it as a "cofa".