AskDefine | Define settee

Dictionary Definition



1 a long wooden bench with a back [syn: settle]
2 a small sofa

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /sɛˈti/, /sE"ti/
  • Rhymes: -iː


  1. A long seat with a back, -- made to accommodate several persons at once.
  2. A vessel with a very long, sharp prow, carrying two or three masts with lateen sails, -- used in the Mediterranean.


long seat

See also

Extensive Definition

A couch is an upholstered item of furniture for the comfortable seating of more than one person and typically has an armrest on either side. Couches are usually to be found in the living room, den or the lounge. They are covered in a variety of textiles or in leather.
The most common types of couches are the loveseat (or British two-seater), the settee (2.5 seats), and the sofa (3 seats). A sectional sofa (often just referred to as a "sectional") is formed from multiple sections (typically 2 to 4) and usually includes at least two pieces that join at an angle of 90 degrees or slightly greater.
Other couch variants include the divan, the fainting couch (backless or partial-backed), the chaise longue (long with one armrest), the canapé (an ornamental 3-seater), and the ottoman (generally considered a footstool). To conserve space, some sofas double as beds (sofa-bed, daybed, or futon). There are also couches known by genericized trademarked names, such as a davenport or chesterfield (named for the Earl of Chesterfield).
A three-piece suite is composed of three couch pieces (generally, a two- or three-seater and two armchairs).


Until the 20th century a couch referred to a long upholstered seat with one end inclined, high enough to provide a back and head-rest. "Couch" which in the Late Middle Ages had signified bedding (from the French se coucher, or "to lie down") was interchangeable with "daybed" through the 17th century. (Gloag, "couch"). Well into the 19th century a couch was particularly a seat for a lady; a fainting couch (a modern term) has a back and a single scrolling upholstered end. A récamier was a late nineteenth-century trade term for a similar single-ended couch, such as the one made famous in David's portrait of Mme Récamier (illustration, right).
The word couch is scarecely used in the United Kindgom, where sofa is far more commonly used. The sopha or sofa had a separate origin. "Sopha" made its entry in written English in 1717 (OED); divan preceded it (1702). Sofa was originally an Arabic word for the raised section of floor, furnished with rugs and cushions, set apart for a council (see Diwan) thus also for especially esteemed guests. Designs for "sophas" in Thomas Chippendale's Director (1754, 1762) all have solidly upholstered arms with padded elbow rests, cushioned seats and upholstered backs, but show their carved wood framing.
Further back in ancient Roman society, the couch was found in the dining room (known as the triclinium). Three couches would be arranged around a low table and the men would recline while eating (although the women sat in normal chairs). Originally it was an elitist piece of furniture and it was not until industrialisation that the upholstered couch became an indispensable item of furniture in middle and lower class households. Throughout its history it has often been an object of derision, considered a variety of things from decadent to conformist. Since 19th Century the couch has become associated with Freudian psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud originally used the couch as a tool to aid his hypnosis of the patient. However when he moved on from hypnosis to stream-of-consciousness discourse as his dominant mode of analysis with the development of the interpretation of dreams, he still held on to the couch. He justified this with the need to limit the transference between psychoanalyst and analysand. Thus, the couch proved particularly useful because it limits the visibility of the analyst. Today the couch is invariably linked to both domestic family life and television culture. Indeed, a slogan used by IKEA home furnishings was "Life happens on the sofa." It is often positioned in relation to the television set in a living room and for napping. It has spawned social phenomena such as the couch potato, a person who spends a lot of time watching the television. The couch has also become the central prop for many TV sitcoms and soap operas. This symbiosis, through which the couch has shifted from the private to the public sphere, has been satirically depicted in popular culture, in television series such as Married... with Children, The Simpsons, The Big Comfy Couch, Friends, The Royle Family and Beavis and Butt-head.


Sofa can be traced back to ancient Egypt of around 2000 BC, but true sofa was invented in the end of the 16th to the early 17th century.
At that time, horse hair, bird feather, plant villi such as natural flexible materials were made as the filler, with the outside velvet, embroidery, or other fabrics masked, to form a soft sofa surface.
At that time in Europe, the most popular Farthingle chair is one of the earliest sofa chair.
1828, spring started to be one material in sofa.
1904, Morris invented Pocket Spring, he grouped Pocket Spring into sofa wooden framework to make sofa. it was originator of modern spring sofa.
in the 1920s, Dunlop had created a new pad technology–rubber foam. Filling the gas in the natural rubber latex, forming into the mold and trying, at last he got a flexible filler - rubber foam. The application of foam rubber greatly simplified the process of filling masked, also had same appearance and quality.
In the 1960s, people developed inflatable and water cushion sofa success, which indicates the sofa manufacturing technology was mature.


  • John Gloag, A Short Dictionary of Furniture rev. ed. 1962. (London: Allen & Unwin)

See also

settee in Arabic: صفة (شريعة)
settee in Bavarian: Ottoman
settee in Czech: Gauč
settee in Danish: Sofa
settee in German: Sofa
settee in Spanish: Sofá
settee in Esperanto: Sofo
settee in French: Canapé
settee in Italian: Divano
settee in Dutch: Zitbank
settee in Dutch Low Saxon: Banke (meubel)
settee in Norwegian: Sofa
settee in Portuguese: Sofá
settee in Romanian: Canapea
settee in Russian: Диван (мебель)
settee in Finnish: Sohva
settee in Swedish: Soffa
settee in Thai: โซฟา
settee in Chinese: 沙發
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