Say or nay?

What do you call this piece of furniture?
It’s features are “a large, overstuffed [furniture for seating] with a back and upholstered arms” (  It’s not necessarily leather or pleather.  In fact, the upholstery choice isn’t that important.  What is important is that it has the back and arms and that it’s big.  Most likely, it’s comfortable.  It’s often in your more formal living room, as opposed to your family room–are those Canadian terms as well, I wonder?

When I was little, “chesterfield” (#3) was used by my family to describe a couch or sofa, but always the one that was sat on less or used for company in our living room.  We didn’t sit on it very often as the “couch” was for everyday use in the family room.  When two separate rooms weren’t present, the couch would also be referred to as the “chesterfield”, particularly by my grandparents.  What I’ve come to find out is that it was named after the Earl of Chesterfield in the 19th century,based on this type of couch with “a low rolled back and deep buttoning”, though we used it more generally than that.  But now?  I’d refer to it and everything like it a “couch” or a “sofa”.

Is it a dead term?  Well not quite.  With a quick Google search, I found a Toronto-based shop called “The Chesterfield Shop“, which seems to sell much more than the traditional chesterfield, but all like-seating, and a couple of other non-furniture related companies using the term in their business name.

Previous Say or Nay? entries:
1) get saucy
2) horse around


About seburnt

I own 4C and teach at University of Toronto. View all posts by seburnt

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