Difference Between a Sofa, Couch and Settee

Sometimes there is confusion as to what the difference between a sofa, couch and settee really is. This blog post will hopefully help alleviate some of that confusion. A sofa by definition is a long, stuffed seat for two or more people with a back and armrests on both sides. A piece of furniture for reclining, it is normally used in the living room, family room or the lounge. They are also found in hotels, offices, waiting rooms of hospitals and furniture stores etc.
The term sofa is believed to have come from Turkish language which meant elevated floor covered with carpet and decorated with cushions for seating. However, the history of sofa tells that the Turkish language took sofa from Arabic in which “suffa” meant a long seat made up of brick or stone, today called a bench. According to many experts, this word came into usage in Europe after the Moors occupied Spain or the ingenious trade routes of the Ottoman Empire. Read more about the history of the sofa here.
The Sofa in modern times
In modern times, sofa has developed into commonly being called a “couch” or “settee”. At many places “couch” is understood as slang for referring a sofa. It is a short form of a French word “coucher” which means “to lay in place” and is widely used in North America, New Zealand and Australia. However, in spite of its informal reference to a sofa, there is some difference in both in terms of design, size and use.
Sofa vs Couch

image of a sofa
Couch, Sofa or Settee?

Sofas are designed with two arms and a concrete back.They are relatively big in size and are designed in such a way that they can accommodate four people at a time. Whereas, a couch comes with a tapered back and may have a single arm or no arms at all. It does not occupy much space and is made to provide comfortable seating for two or three people. Secondly, a sofa may consist of a pull out bed, more commonly known as a “sofa bed” but there is no way of getting that facility in a couch. There is visible difference in how both of them are used. Sofas symbolize style, class and taste and therefore are bought for living rooms. They are best suited to formal occasions with family or meetings held with corporate officials. Couches on the other hand, are perfect for informal settings where comfort is the top priority. Sitting with friends, having fun, playing board games, listening to music, watching movies, munching popcorns are all such instances where a presence of a couch becomes a necessity.
A settee, another contemporary popular term used in place of sofa is a playful expression derived from the English word “settle” which means “a place to sit”. It is often deemed as a precursor to sofa. They date back to the 17th century where they were designed in wood only. Considered for their comfort, nowadays they are not confined to just living rooms but can also be found even in the kitchen. Different kinds of Sofa Sofa come in different shapes, designs and sizes. The famous loveseats are a two seater sofa. A sectional includes at least two sofas which join together making a 90 degree angle. They are also sometimes called the L shaped sofas.