Settee vs Sofa vs Couch – What’s the Difference?

Whether it’s a small 2-seater just for you to curl up on after a long day and enjoy your favourite book or TV show or a large corner sofa for the entire family, no living room design is complete without a sofa. Modern sofas are available in a variety of different styles, shapes, and sizes to fit into any interior design style and become not only a functional but also incredibly stylish centrepiece. But while everyone agrees that it’s the best piece of furniture if you want to sit comfortably and relax, not everyone calls it the same thing.

Some of us own a sofa, and others prefer to lounge on a settee or a couch, but what exactly is the difference between a sofa and the other two? Do all these terms describe the same type of furniture? If you want to make sure that you find the best option for your needs, understanding the differences, or lack thereof, is crucial. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve decided to delve into this topic a little further.

What Is the Difference Between a Sofa, a Settee and a Couch?

As you probably already know, these three terms tend to be used interchangeably. You may happily show off your stylish new sofa to your guests, only to have them compliment the beauty of your couch. So, who is right in this situation? Truth be told, you both are. And if, on another occasion, someone else tells you that they love your new settee, it wouldn’t be wrong either.

At this point, you may be asking: Why are there different names for the same thing? Wouldn’t it be less confusing to keep just one? The answer lies in the past because while nowadays there seems to be no distinguishable difference between them, it wasn’t always the case. Each term comes from a different region of the world and, historically, used to describe distinctly different pieces of furniture with a similar function. Over the years, they evolved to become what we now know either as sofas, settees, or couches.

What Is a Sofa?

The word sofa is probably the most popular name for a piece of furniture that can seat more than one person. It’s used to describe everything from small loveseats to corner sofas and sofa beds, but it’s quite different from its original meaning. It comes from the Arabic word soffah. However, although a soffah was used for sitting, it wasn’t a type of furniture but a raised part of the floor with cushions and carpets placed on top for comfort.

What Is a Settee?

To find where the word settee comes from, we need to look closer to home. It’s thought to come from the Old English word setl, which in the Middle Ages was used to describe a long wooden bench with a back, often beautifully carved to look more decorative. Its design evolved over the centuries until it started to resemble the form we’re familiar with today, thanks to the addition of upholstery.

What Is a Couch?

Finally, we have the word couch, which came into the English language from France. The French verb coucher (to lie down, sleep) is its most likely source and implies its original purpose. Historically, this type of furniture, typically with arms at one or both ends and no back, was mainly used for lying down and resting rather than sitting, making it more like a chaise longue than a standard sofa. However, when it comes to modern furniture design, a couch has the same role as a sofa or a settee.

What Are the Different Types of Sofas?

So now you know that whether you call it a sofa, a couch, or a settee, it means the same thing. But this doesn’t necessarily make finding the perfect furniture for your home any easier. Why? From traditional 2-seater sofa beds to functional sofa beds and contemporary sofas, with leather or fabric upholstery in any colour you can imagine, there are countless styles and types to choose from. Below, we’ll give a few examples and explain the differences between them.

Standard Sofa

Standard sofas are the most common option. They can vary in style and size but always consist of a bench that can seat at least two people, armrests at both ends and a backrest. Typically, they are entirely upholstered and come either in one piece or with removable seat and back cushions. There are many popular design styles, such as Chesterfield, Tuxedo or Camelback sofas.

Chaise Sofa

While a traditional chaise lounge resembles an elongated chair that provides enough room to recline comfortably and stretch out your legs, the term chaise sofa usually describes a large sofa with a chaise longue section at one end.


Designed for small spaces, loveseats offer enough room for two people. Depending on their design and size, they can resemble a small 2-seater sofa or a wide armchair. In larger rooms, they can be used instead of standard armchairs to offer more comfort, but are also a popular choice for bedrooms and home libraries.

Sofa Bed

A sofa bed is a functional and cost-effective piece of furniture that can serve two roles: you can use it as a normal sofa during the day and effortlessly transform it into a comfortable bed in the evening. It’s a great space-saving option for small flats or a bed for overnight guests if you don’t have a guest room.

Corner Sofa

A corner or modular sofa typically consists of two connected pieces that make an L-shape. Large corner sofas can seat even eight or ten people at once, which makes them an excellent solution for big families and people who love having guests over.

Find the Best Sofa for Your Living Room at SofaFox!

At SofaFox, we have a wide selection of high-quality sofas in a variety of styles and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a cosy 2-seater, a comfortable sofa bed or a large corner sofa, we have everything you need to give your living room a stylish makeover and increase its comfort. Take a look at our offer and feel free to contact us – we’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you find the perfect sofa for you!

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