Sofa, Settee, Couch - What's the Difference?

Often when viewing adverts, or browsing websites, like ours, you'll see a the same type of furniture called by different names.

So the question is, what's the difference? Basically, nothing. The three most common names pretty much mean the same thing. The different names come from different roots, and tend to be regional in their use.

  • Sofa
    This is derived from the arabic word 'suffah', which roughly translates as an upholstered raised platform.
  • Settee
    This comes from the old english word, 'setl', which was used to describe long benches with high backs and arms, but is now generally used to describe upholstered seating.
  • Couch
    The term couch is more commonly used in the USA, Australia & New Zealand, but is used more and more in the UK. It's derived from the old french word 'couche', which means literally 'Bed', and originally denoted an item of furniture for lying or sleeping on, more like a chaise lounge, but now refers to sofas in general.

So Where does 'Chesterfield' come into it?

Strictly speaking, a chesterfield sofa is fully upholstered (no wooden back or arms), and has arms and back at the same height.

However, it's more commonly used these days to describe a large settee, often with deep buttoning (also known as tufting).

As to the question of where the name comes from, no one really knows. Some think it was named for the Earl of Chesterfield, others think it was named for the town in Derbyshire.

It has been in common use since the Victorian times.


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