What is a chesterfield?

Have a seat on the couch, and we’ll talk about a term used in Canadian English: chesterfield.

Chesterfield

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Example:

While watching a sitcom on TV, I laughed so hard, I fell off the chesterfield!

Meaning:

Chesterfield is a term that I heard frequently growing up in Canada. In Canada, a chesterfield is a couch or sofa; that is, a large, cushioned seat that can fit more than one person. Note that if the couch can seat exactly two people, that type of couch is typically referred to as a loveseat.

The term chesterfield originates in England where such seats are believed to have originally been named for a former Earl of Chesterfield, an Anglo-Saxon noble. In the United Kingdom the term chesterfield typically refers to a buttoned sofa, normally made out of leather, with arms and back of approximately the same height. In Canada, however, any type of couch or sofa can be called a chesterfield.

I used the term chesterfield daily as a child growing up in Ontario… in fact, I don’t recall using the term couch, which is the most common way to refer to such a piece of furniture in the United States, until I was attending university in South Carolina. That said, the term chesterfield is a dying term that is gradually being replaced in Canadian vocabulary by the terms couch and sofa. While you may hear the word chesterfield being used in Canada, you won’t hear it used as often as you might have during the 1990s or before.

What is a sitcom?

In the example above I used the word sitcom. In case you are unaware, sitcom is a short-form way to refer to a situational comedy. Sitcoms are half-hour comedy television shows that North American networks play, typically featuring a new episode per sitcom per week during a television season. Examples of sitcoms include Friends, Scrubs and Arrested Development.

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