Italian Word of the Day: Divano (couch / sofa)

Today’s word of the day is an indispensable piece of furniture found in most homes: the humble divano (couch, sofa, settee).

cover image with the word “divano” and a a young girl sitting on the couch and listening to music in the background

It is a masculine noun, so it takes the following definite and indefinite articles:

il divano
the couch

un divano
a couch

i divani
the couches

dei divani
(some) couches

Alice si sta rilassando sul divano, sorseggiando una tazza di caffè e leggendo un libro.

Alice is relaxing on the couch, sipping a cup of coffee and reading a book.

Like the English word divan, its origin can be traced back to the Turkish divan, which in turn comes from the Persian diwan meaning ‘anthology, register, court, or bench’.

As a piece of furniture used in the 18th century Middle East, a divano was originally a low bench or raised section of floor against an interior wall. European imitation of this in the 19th century produced the meaning ‘low flat sofa or bed’.

In more recent times, it has been used as a synonym for consiglio (council), especially to indicate the council of ministers in the Ottoman Empire, and in the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, it also had the meaning of assemblea (assembly) and tribunale supremo (supreme court).

Tabby cat relaxing on couch in home
Il gatto dorme sul divano = The cat sleeps on the couch

Some different kinds of divani include:

  • divano letto = sofa bed
  • divano a due / tre posti = 2 / 3 seater sofa
  • divano angolare = L shaped / corner sofa
  • divano componibile = modular sofa
  • divano con penisola = chaise sofa
  • divano alla turca = ottoman

Less commonly, the divano also goes by the names canapè and sofà.

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