Couch vs Sofa
The words couch and sofa 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.
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, picture becomes clearer when we look at the roots of the two words. Couch comes from French couche, which means a piece of furniture meant for sitting or reclining. On the other hand, sofa comes from Arabic suffah, which is a piece of furniture that is upholstered and has arms and back. At least, the origins of the words give us a clue as to the differences in their structures.
The most remarkable thing about a couch or a sofa 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 to even breathe. These couches provided them with much needed relief as they could lie down and relax for some time. 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. A couch is designed so as to take up least space inside a room. Another difference between the two pertains to a provision of a bed inside a sofa which is never found inside a couch.
In terms of function also, there are differences between a sofa and 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. On the other hand, sofas are more formal in their approach and are used in all places from homes to clinics to public offices.