What Is The Difference Between A Couch And A Sofa? (Couch Vs. Sofa)

Sometimes you might start pondering about the differences between a couch and a sofa. You might also ask yourself whether or not there’s a difference between these two essential pieces of furniture. In this article, you’re going to know everything that makes the couch and the sofa different from each other. So, let’s explore what is the difference between a couch and a sofa.


Couch Definition
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The word ‘couch’ often refers to small or casual sofas. However, that’s not the case as couches are equipped with some features that distinguish them from sofas. The word is derived from an old French verb called “couche”, which typically means “to lie down”. The design of couches clearly represents that specific meaning.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, couches are an article of upholstered furniture and come with a back, on which one may sit or recline, just to rest. They’re basically a piece of furniture where only two people can sit. Many people consider couches to be the provider of a communal platform; for example a comforting space for a family to lie down and relax.

Couches are basically like a chaise lounge, they don’t come with arms. They can serve accommodation up to a maximum of two people. They can act as a great comfortable sleeping spot for your beloved pets.


Sofa armed defines with cushions and upholstering. A usual sofa has ample space to sit multiple persons comfortably and there are variances in the seat type. The word sofa can even describe a coach depending on some factors like size and style.

Many people believe that the word ‘sofa’ originated from the Arabic word “suffa” which refers to a long seat that is made from stones or bricks. It’s one of the most common words used in Britain to mark out a big, comfortable piece of furniture that resides in your living room. They were invented in the early 17th century.

Sofas are generally the more comfortable version of couches. They feature armrests and cushions. The greatest feature of sofas is along with providing more space; they can provide accommodation for more than three people. Not only that, they’re fully capable of making your room look more elegant, classic, and aesthetic.

Read Next: Ikea Ektorp Sofa Review 

Etymology and History

The term couch originally signified an item of furniture that is used for lying or sleeping on. It’s predominantly used in regions like North America, South Africa, Australia, and Ireland. It originated in Middle English from the Old French couche, as we’ve mentioned previously. Since couches are mostly used for reclining or lying upon, it’s described most of the times as an upholstered piece that can be found in a family room.

The history of the couch is quite short. The word initially dates back to 1385 when Chaucer referred it to as a place where he would sleep in his work in 1385, however by 1500; it was majorly written about as a seat. It was quite popular and majorly used back in the Victorian era. Many people believe it to be an early 17th-century French innovation. Nowadays, traditional couches are described as a psychiatrist’s couch or a leather couch found in a hotel lobby, a bar, or a waiting room.

On the other hand, ‘sofa’ dates back to 2000BC Egypt and derived from the Arabic word ‘suffah’. Initially, sofa referred to benches people used. In modern days, sofas are far more advanced has they have cushioning, upholstering and springs etc. There is proper science that is used to make sofas more comfortable. However, even in its most basic form, people have used sofas for their seating comfort for multiple millennia.  

Unfortunately though, back in 2000BC, sofas were a lot more of a privilege. Sofas were luxury items reserved for the highest of Roman classes who loved the comfort of these furniture. The common people back then had stoned structures as their best option for sitting.

During the dark ages in the 5th century- after the Roman’s collapsed- sofas alongside many other luxury items and good things began to disappear. Well made, cushioned sofas were replaced by benches that served no more than allowing on to sit off the ground. It was not until the 16th century when European makers began to reiterate the sofa that this comforting piece of furniture reestablished itself in people’s lives.

Overtime, the Europeans began to create some classic designs- a lot of which are of display in heritage sites. The carved handmade designs were and are still incredibly visually stimulating. However, the comfort department became a pitfall. Weird material choices like horse tail hair and hay are quite self-explanatory at why these were great to look at, but not half as good to sit on.

Only in the 1800s did this condition improve as furniture makers like Thomas Chippendale stumbled upon some pattern books that documented sofa design of older times. From there, makers began to use those designs to not only improve beauty but also improving comfort by adding deeper cushions.

Over the course of time, sofas stopped being something that the royals and very rich people could afford only. It started becoming a common household necessity. Up until now, sofas always had a statement with them, but as they were becoming more popularized in the early 1900s, they became less flamboyant and more practical.

And as for the structure and shape of these furniture, sofas usually come with two armrests and a uniform back; while couches are generally equipped with an armrest or none at all, along with a tapered back.

Size Matters

Difference Between Couch And Sofa
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When it comes to the matter of size, you’ll surely notice a remarkable difference between sofas and couches. Sofas are designed in such a way that they can easily provide you with more seating space. Since they can give you more seating space, they occupy more floor space. Sofas supposedly provide seating spaces for four people at max, however, nowadays, multiple people can sit on them; as they’re getting big in size gradually.

On the other hand, couches are capable of comfortably tending to two or three persons. They’re more compact than sofas. Another noticeable difference between them is that some sofas have a pull-out bed feature whereas couches don’t have this particular feature.


Sofas and couches also share differences with each other in terms of functionality. Most of the time, couches are used in more casual and informal settings like in an entertainment room, a cozy living space, etc. They’re mainly used for sleeping, watching the television, spending time with your loved ones, etc.

Meanwhile, sofas are perceived as being slightly a little bit more formal. In short, they’re mostly associated with formal living spaces and hosting opportunities. They’re generally used in living rooms. They release elegant and classy vibes; which contributes to the overall appearance of the living room.


Sofas are a long upholstered piece of furniture and come with a back. They can be convertible into a bed. They’re mostly used in living rooms. They tend to be of the industry standard. They’re majorly defined as big, comfortable furniture with long backs. They’re sometimes upholstered in leather or fabric. They come with a seating capacity of three or more.

On the other hand, couches are a form of divans. They don’t come with arms. Even if they do come to them, that would be only one. They’re smaller than sofas. They’re more like chaise lounges. They’re often defined as a piece of furniture found in a family room. They’re usually capable of accommodating up to 2 people only.

Final Thoughts

Though most people use both of these words interchangeably and probably don’t mind using either of them to describe an upholstered piece of furniture, they’re actually different from each other in terms of construction, style, size, functionality, origins, and seating capacity.

Couches are like the less formal version of a sofa with one or no arm; whereas sofas are considered to be the more comfortable version of couches that includes an armrest, cushions, and more space. The sofa is the right term for describing an upholstered piece of furniture and a couch is just an alternative to that term. Technically speaking, both of them indicate an upholstered piece of furniture where two or more people can sit on.

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