Difference Between Couch and Sofa

Couch vs Sofa

The difference between a couch and a sofa is mainly in the size and the purpose of the two furniture types. You will see that people use the words couch and sofa to refer to the same comfortable chair meant for more than a single person that also has padding. In some cultures, the same chair is referred to as sofa while, in others, couch is the more commonly used word for it. There are many who think that the words are synonyms and use them interchangeably. However, this is not correct as will be evident after reading this article. You will see that each has distinctive features that make it impossible for us to use the two words couch and sofa interchangeably.

Let us see what dictionaries have to say about the words sofa and couch. It is not surprising that both sofa and couch are described as an upholstered seat for more than one person. What is funny is that the synonym of sofa is given as couch and vice versa. However, to make the picture clearer, we can have a look at the roots of the two words. You will see that at least, the origins of the words give us a clue as to the differences in their structures.

What is a Couch?

Couch comes from French ‘couche,’ which means a piece of furniture meant for sitting or reclining. The most remarkable thing about a couch or a sofa nowadays is that there is no huge difference between the two. There are even people who say that couch is nothing but slang for the more traditional word sofa. They point out the use of couch potato for those who spend a lot of time lying on their couch watching TV programs.

As the word couch has French origin, more unraveling tells us that it was designed so as to be more comfortable for women wearing tight-fitting corsets. It was made armless so that women could lie down easily on the couch. In fact, it was common for people to refer to it as a fainting couch. Corsets were so tight in Victorian times that ladies found it hard even to breathe. These couches provided them with much needed relief as they could lie down and relax for some time. A couch is designed so as to take up least space inside a room. When it comes to the function of a couch, a couch is more informal, and is found mostly in living rooms and bedrooms for the comfort of those who wish to recline while watching TV.

Difference Between Couch and Sofa

What is a Sofa?

On the other hand, sofa comes from Arabic ‘suffah,’ which is a piece of furniture that is upholstered and has arms and back. So, whereas a couch has no arms, a sofa is characterized by two arms and a uniform back. Sofas have more seating space than couches, and thus also tend to occupy more space in places they are kept. Another difference between the two pertains to a provision of a bed inside a sofa which is never found inside a couch. When it comes to the function of a sofa, sofas are more formal in their approach and are used in all places from homes to clinics to public offices.

 Couch vs Sofa

What is the difference between Couch and Sofa?

Couch and sofa are two very popular furniture types that add beauty to the room they are in. Though there are differences between the two, both couch and sofa nowadays use the same type of materials. However, you can see the following differences between couch and sofa.

• Root words:

• Couch comes from French couche.

• Sofa comes from Arabic suffah.

• Description of a Couch and a Sofa:

• A couch usually has no arms or has only one arm.

• A sofa has two arms and a back.

• Purpose:

• A couch was originally used for lying down. Nowadays, we use it as a chair.

• A sofa is used for sitting like a normal chair.

• Size:

• A couch can seat two or three people.

• A sofa can seat four or more people. So, a sofa is bigger than a couch.

• Places used:

• A couch is more informal that it is used mostly in private places such as a living room in a house.

• A sofa can be used in a home, an office, or a clinic without a problem.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Fainting couch by  Infrogmation (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Sofa by Wikidapit (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  • Catman

    Sofas have arm rest and couches don’t. Most people misuse the word couch. But who has heard of a sofa potato? There are sofa surfers and couch potatoes.