See also: Couch

English edit

William Kay Blacklock, A Quiet Read (c. 1900), depicting a woman reading while sitting on a couch
A Kubus couch or sofa by the Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffmann

Pronunciation edit

  • enPR: kouch, IPA(key): /kaʊt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
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  • Rhymes: -aʊtʃ

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English couche, cowche, from Old French couche, from the verb (see below). Doublet of cwtch.

Alternative forms edit

Noun edit

couch (plural couches)

  1. (Canada, US, Australia, Ireland) An item of furniture, often upholstered, for the comfortable seating of more than one person; a sofa.
    • 2009, Nancy Bishop, Secrets from the Casting Couch: On Camera Strategies for Actors from a Casting Director, London: Methuen Drama, A & C Black, →ISBN:
      At a casting workshop, an actor was performing a blank scene [] and he had not bothered to make any choices about why he was on stage, what his motivation was, what he was playing. He had decided who he was and where he was (on a couch with his girlfriend) but had not decided what he wanted. So the performance was flat and lifeless.
    • 2010, Alessandra Lemma, Matthew Patrick, “Off the Couch and Round the Conference Table”, in Alessandra Lemma, Matthew Patrick, editors, Off the Couch: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Applications, London: Routledge, →ISBN:
      [] I want to try to describe my efforts to take psychoanalysis as a method off the couch and into the work of creating and using a political conference table.
    • 2014, Jennifer Mathieu, The Truth About Alice: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Roaring Brook Press, →ISBN:
      It's not a particularly unique living room. It has a window that faces the street, two broken-in beige couches, a few end tables, a television (not the latest model), and a dark blue throw rug in the center of it all. Alice sat down on one end of one couch, and I sat down on the other end.
  2. A bed, a resting-place.
  3. The den of an otter.
    • 1998, Kevin Roche, First Phase Report of the Třeboň Otter Project:
      A couch was located under the roots of an uprooted tree in a medium dense spruce patch and the second couch was located under a free standing spruce along a regulation channel.
  4. (art, painting and gilding) A preliminary layer, as of colour or size.
    • 1839, Jean-François-Léonor Mérimée, W[illiam] B[enjamin] Sarsfield Taylor, “On the Preservation of Pictures, and the Methods Used for Restoring Them”, in The Art of Painting in Oil, and in Fresco: Being a History of the Various Processes and Materials Employed, from Its Discovery, by Hubert and John Van Eyck, to the Present Time: Translated from the Original French Treatise of M. J. F. L. Mérimée, Secretary to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in Paris. With Original Observations on the Rise and Progress of British Art, the French and English Chromatic Scales, and Theories of Colouring, by W. B. Sarsfield Taylor, Senior Curator of the Living Model Academy, &c. &c., London: Whittaker & Co. Ave Maria Lane, →OCLC, page 231:
      For the re-lining, the usual method is to strain a new and strong cloth of an even surface upon the stretcher, to rub it down smooth with pumice stone, and then to give it an even couch of paste, a similar couch is then to be applied to the back of the picture after it has been freed from all inequalities; []
    • 2008, Jodi Brody, Portrait Painting with Classical Old Masters Techniques: A Guide to Using the Venetian Methods, [Raleigh, N.C.]: Lulu, →ISBN, page 58:
      Once you have chosen which color of underpainting you will use, you should apply the paint to get the values, lighting, and the likeness perfect. The underpainting is applied using a couch of medium and the paint is worked into that medium in very small amounts and in small areas at a time. [] Your paint should glide and then melt into the couch as you work the paint with your brush.
  5. (brewing) A mass of steeped barley spread upon a floor to germinate, in malting; or the floor occupied by the barley.
    a couch of malt
    • 1849, William Ford, “Malting”, in An Historical Account of the Malt Trade and Laws, Shewing the Decline, and Causes of the Decline in the Consumption of Malt; with a Practical Treatise on Malting and Brewing, Deduced from Thirty Years Experience, London: Published by the author, 10, West Square, St. George's, Southwark, and 5, Talbot Court, Gracechurch Street, →OCLC, pages 125–126:
      MALTING IN MUNICH. The barley is steeped till the acrospire, in embryo, or seed germ, seems to be quickened; [] As long however as the seed-gum sticks to the husk, it has not been steeped enough for exposure to the underground malt-floor: nor can deficient steeping be safely made up for afterwards by sprinkling the malt couch with a watering can, which is apt to render the malting irregular. [] It [the barley] is now taken out and laid on the couch floor, in a square heap, eight to ten inches high, and it is turned over morning and evening with dexterity, so as to throw the middle portion upon the top and bottom of the new made couch.
  6. (metonymically, usually as "the couch") Psychotherapy.
    He spent years on the couch going over his traumatic childhood.
  7. (figurative, politics, usually as "the couch") Voters who opt out of voting, usually by staying home on their couch.
    If Kamala Harris replaces Joe Biden in the 2024 election, analysts warn that she will lose to the couch.
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Descendants edit
  • German: Couch
Translations edit

Further reading edit

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle English couchen, from Old French (se) couchier, (se) colchier (go to bed, lay down), from Latin collocāre (set in place), from com- (together, with) + locāre. Doublet of collocate.

Alternative forms edit

Verb edit

couch (third-person singular simple present couches, present participle couching, simple past and past participle couched)

  1. To lie down; to recline (upon a couch or other place of repose).
    Synonyms: lie down, recline
  2. To bend the body, as in reverence, pain, labor, etc.; to stoop; to crouch.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book III, Canto I”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza 4:
      At laſt, as thro an open Plain they yode, / They ſpy'd a Knight, that towards pricked fair, / And him beſide an aged Squire there rode, / That ſeem'd to couch under his Shield three-ſquare, / As if that Age bad him that Burden ſpare, / And yield it thoſe that ſtouter could it wield: []
    • c. 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies, London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, act IV, scene ii, page 86:
      [T]hen let the Trumpets ſound / The Tucket Sonuance, and the Note to mount: / For our approach ſhall ſo much dare the field, / That England ſhall couch downe in feare, and yeeld.
  3. (transitive) To lay something upon a bed or other resting place.
    • c. 1591–1595?, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies, London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, act II, scene iii, page 61:
      But where vnbruſed youth with vnſtuft braine / Doth couch his lims, there, golden ſleepe doth raigne; []
    • 1974, Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Fearful Void, London: Hodder & Stoughton, →ISBN:
      The storm seemed to have acquired a second wind, blowing as fiercely as in the morning, and at the tree we couched the beasts and started to upload again. We rolled into our blankets once more, and passed more hours sheltering blindly from the blasting of the sand.
  4. (transitive) To arrange or dispose as if in a bed.
    • 1684, Thomas Burnet, The Theory of the Earth: Containing an Account of the Original of the Earth, and of All the General Changes which it Hath Already Undergone, or Is to Undergo, Till the Consummation of All Things, volume I, London: Printed by R[oger] Norton for Walter Kettilby, OCLC 12330969, book I; republished as The Theory of the Earth: Containing an Account of the Original of the Earth, and of All the General Changes which it Hath Already Undergone, or Is to Undergo, Till the Consummation of All Things. The Two First Books Concerning the Deluge, and Concerning Paradise, 3rd edition, volume I, London: Printed for R[oger] N[orton] for Walter Kettilby, at the Bishop's-Head in S. Paul's Church-Yard, 1697, OCLC 228725686, page 56:
      [T]he Sea and the Land make one Globe, and the waters couch themſelves, as cloſe as may be, to the Center of this Globe in a Spherical convexity; ſo that if all the Mountains and Hills were ſcal'd, and the Earth made even, the Waters would not overflow its ſmooth ſurface; []
  5. (transitive) To lay or deposit in a bed or layer; to bed.
    • 1627, Francis Bacon, “VIII. Century”, in Sylua Syluarum: or A Naturall Historie: in Ten Centuries. VVritten by the Right Honourable Francis Lo[rd] Verulam Viscount St. Alban. Published after the Authors Death, by VVilliam Rawley Doctor of Diuinitie, late His Lordships Chaplaine, London: Printed by I[ohn] H[aviland and Augustine Mathewes] for William Lee at the Turks Head in Fleet-street, next to the Miter, OCLC 606502643; republished as Sylva Sylvarvm: or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centvries. Written by the Right Honourable Francis Lo. Verulam Viscount St. Alban. Published after the Authors Death, by William Rawley Doctor in Divinitie, One of His Majesties Chaplaines. Hereunto is now Added an Alphabeticall Table of the Principall Things Contained in the Whole Worke, London: Printed by John Haviland for William Lee, and are to be sold by John Williams, 1635, OCLC 606502717, page 197:
      It is, at this Day, in uſe, in Gaza, to couch Pot-Sheards or Veſſels of Earth, in their Walls, to gather the Wind from the top, and to paſſe it downe in Spouts into Roomes. It is a Device for Freſhneſſe, in great Heats; []
  6. (transitive) To lower (a spear or lance) to the position of attack.
  7. (ophthalmology, transitive) In the treatment of a cataract in the eye, to displace the opaque lens with a sharp object such as a needle. The technique is regarded as largely obsolete.
    • 1759, William Porterfield, A Treatise on the Eye, the Manner and Phænomena of Vision. In Two Volumes, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed for A. Miller at London, and for G. Hamilton and J. Balfour at Edinburgh, →OCLC, page 433:
      [] A Man having a Cataract in both Eyes, which intirely deprived him of Sight, committed himſelf to an Oculiſt, who finding them ripe, performed the Operation, and couched the Cataracts with all the Succeſs could be deſired; but after they were couched, he could not ſee objects diſtinctly, even at an ordinary Diſtance, without the Help of a very convex Lens; which is what every body has obſerved to be neceſſary to all thoſe who have had a Cataract couched: [] .
  8. (paper-making, transitive) To transfer (for example, sheets of partly dried pulp) from the wire mould to a felt blanket for further drying.
    • 1922 May, “Paper board industry is distinctly American”, in Shears, volume 30, Lafayette, Ind.: Haywood Pub. Co., →OCLC, page 103:
      He invented the grooved wood roll or mandrel on which the thin film of wet paper, as couched from the cylinder mould, was wound and thus the sheet built up to the required thickness, when it was cut from the roll or mandrel along the groove and peeled off to be air dried and sheet calendered.
    • 2003, Josep Asunción, The Complete Book of Papermaking, New York, N.Y.: Lark Books, →ISBN, page 80:
      Couching involves transferring the sheet of paper from the mould to the felt. [] After couching the sheet, place a new felt on top and repeat the operation.
  9. (sewing, transitive) To attach a thread onto fabric with small stitches in order to add texture.
    • 1890, “A combination dining and sitting room”, in The Home-maker: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine, volume 3, New York, N.Y.: Home-maker Co., →OCLC, page 326:
      These curtains we couched in white cord with quaint designs.
  10. To phrase in a particular style; to use specific wording for.
    Synonyms: explain, express, phrase, term
    He couched it as a request, but it was an order.
    • 1878, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, volume CXXIII, Edinburgh: William Blackwood; London: T[homas] Cadell and W. Davis, →OCLC, page 49:
      And here I should observe that I had received a letter from Flora couched in rather cool terms, congratulating me on my marriage; []
    • 2012 June 26, Genevieve Koski, “Justin Bieber: Believe”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 29 June 2012:
      More significantly, rigid deference to [Justin] Bieber’s still-young core fan base keeps things resolutely PG, with any acknowledgement of sex either couched in vague “touch your body” workarounds or downgraded to desirous hand-holding and eye-gazing.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “Setting the Record Straight: An In-depth Examination of Hobson-Jobson”, in International Journal of Lexicography, volume 31, number 4, →DOI, page 487:
      When not inaccurate, much commentary on the contents of Hobson-Jobson is couched in hedges or relies on speculative estimates in the absence of exact information.
  11. (archaic) To lie down for concealment; to conceal, to hide; to be concealed; to be included or involved darkly or secretly.
    • before 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry Wiues of Windsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies, London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, act V, scene ii, page 58:
      Come, come: wee'll couch i'th Caſtle-ditch, till we ſee the light of our Fairies.
    • 1661, Galileo Galilei, translated by Thomas Salusbury, The Systeme of the World: In Four Dialogues wherein the Two Grand Systemes of Ptolomy and Copernicus are Largely Discoursed of: And the Reasons, both Phylosophical and Physical, as well on the One Side as the Other, Impartially and Indefinitely Propounded, London: William Leybourn, →OCLC, dialogue 2:
      You have overlooked a fallacy couched in the experiment of the stick.
    • 1832, Isaac Taylor, “The State of Sacred Science: ‘Thy Testimonies are My Meditation’”, in Saturday Evening, London: Holdsworth and Ball, OCLC 262702496; republished Hingham, Mass.: Published by C. & E. B. Gill [...], 1833, OCLC 191249371, page 91:
      [] Or who, regardless of the powers of calumny that keep their state as ministers of vengeance around the throne of ancient Prejudice, explores anew the half-hidden, half-revealed wonders, that yet couch beneath the words of the Scripture?
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Etymology 3 edit

Couch grass (Elymus repens) in Münster-Geschinen, Valais, Switzerland

From a variant of quitch, from Middle English quich, quyke, from Old English cwice.

Noun edit

couch (uncountable)

  1. Couch grass, a species of persistent grass, Elymus repens, usually considered a weed.
    • 1864 November 19, “The Agricultural Gazette”, in The Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette: A Newspaper of Rural Economy and General News, volume 24, number 47, London: Published for the proprietors, at 41, Wellington Street, Covent Garden, W.C., →OCLC, page 1114, column 2:
      The first field it did was one on which Swedes had been roughly planted the year previously, but it had not been touched since the crop was eaten off, and was then a perfect wilderness of Couch, Docks, Thistles, and Dandelions.
    • 1916, The Law Journal Reports, volume 85, part 1, London: E. B. Ince, →OCLC, page 46:
      After he knew that he would have to give up the farm in two years he ploughed it up, had a thin crop of oats, and sowed it again with winter oats. In February, 1914, it was a field of couch.
    • 1962, World Crops, volume 14, London: Leonard Hill Ltd., →OCLC, page 71:
      The lateral growth of these underground shoots can be very rapid, so that, from a small patch of couch, a large area of coffee can become infested in a short time.
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