Killeen Hanson

Loveseat Taxonomy

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary sorts each and every one of the 800,000 words in the English language into a taxonomy of synonymous terms. At the headwaters of this linguistic river are three ideas into which every word can be sorted: The External World, The Mind, and Society. These are broken down into successively narrower domains. This taxonomy eventually divides into more than 236,000 separate categories.

In an effort to better understand how furniture forms and is formed by human relationships, I followed the taxonomy upstream to see how and where different pieces of furniture related to each other and to the words we choose to describe our relationships to each other. This particular diagram traces the semantic route of that most commonplace and romantic of chairs: the love seat.

  • Research
  • Etymology
  • Chairs

↑ The love-seat > for two persons > sofa or couch > seat > furniture or fittings > a building > inhabited place > inhabiting or dwelling > society.

↑ This cozy seat for two is variously known as a settée, double-chair, marquise, British two-seater, courting bench, conversation chair (1793), confidante (1794), sociable (1811), causeuse (1844), tête-á-tête (1864), cosy (1876), or two-seater (1891).

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