Davenport is the name of a series of sofas made by the now-defunct Massachusetts furniture manufacturer A. H. Davenport Company. Due to the popularity of the furniture at the time, the name "Davenport" has become a genericized trademark, like Kleenex.
It is often used as a synonym for "sofa", especially in the Midwestern United States and in northern New York state. Specifically, it is used in the Adirondack Region and the Tug Hill Plateau, especially amongst those born there before World War II. The so-called Davenports of the northern New York region are often locally made sofa versions of the locally manufactured convertible Adirondack chair.
Among the younger generations, the word has come to mean a more formal sofa. In the Tug Hill and Adirondack regions in New York, a Davenport may refer especially to a couch which, like a modern futon lounge, converts on pivoting hinges from a sofa to a bed.
In other areas of North America, the word Davenport is used for a futon style sofa with storage under the seat area.
A similar word, Daveno, also refers to a sofa or couch. The term was more widely used in the 50s and 60s, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
In popular culture
The characters of Old Time Radio shows from the 1940s, such as Fibber McGee and Molly, and Vic and Sade, for example, are frequently retiring, resting, sewing, and doing other activities, on the davenport.
The Warren Zevon song "Disorder in the House" features the line "I'm sprawled across the Davenport of despair."
The Boston chapter of the Robert Benchley Society is named "We've Come for the Davenport" from a reference to an incident in the life of Robert Benchley as recorded in his biography by Nathaniel Benchley.
In Wayne's World, Noah Vanderhoff describes Wayne's World as being "Two chimps on a davenport in a basement."
The American improvisational trio Happy Apple entitled a track "Mom got a new Davenport" on their album part of the solutionproblem. The track is sixteen minutes in length and may be interpreted to have no concrete reference to the Davenport, hide-a-bed style sofa.
In the "Brian's Got a Brand New Bag" episode of Family Guy, the Davenport is referenced by Brian's love interest, Rita. Rita breaks the relationship with Brian and asks him to leave her key on the Davenport. Brian is confused and continues to put the key on several different pieces of furniture—none of which was a sofa. Rita then frustratedly gasps, "The Chesterfield!" This is a second long outdated 'slang' term from the early 20th-century Northeastern United States and England. Brian then eventually gives up. This is most likely in reference to the historical use of the words and Rita being a woman of mature age.
I am from the west, so didn't hear davenport or sofa too much. It was always a couch.
My Mother is nearing 90 and was raised in Hawaii (she is a native Islander) with a tremendous missionary influence. Her language was always very formal. My Father was a great lover of the English language. We would play a game when I was small (nearly 50 years ago), if he said a word in the course of conversation and I asked him what it meant before he asked me I would accrue points. If he asked me first points were taken away. So many points accrued would earn me an ice cream cone. I have such fond memories of that.
I have had friends throughout my life comment on the fact that my manner of speaking is quite formal.
Kanoe Godby www.dyrkgodby.com See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.
Agree with 5, somewhere i read a quote regarding the construction of an early federal building - it was referred to as pompous and artificial where pompous was majestic and artificial meant very clever - full of artifice.
Does anybody use artifice any more? Or "fine Italian hand"? (I think that was Sherlock Holmes, not sure).
My grandpa used to use the word peccadillo when I was little but I was never clear on the meaning other than I was in trouble. It turns out it was a slight or trifling sin (1942), and is now a minor fault (2009).
A gyp is a female dog. Some say it's a female dog who has not had puppies. Kind of like the canine version of heifer. And have only heard that used by dog people, not the general pet-owning population, but people who bred and/or hunted dogs and/or hounds.
(I remember hearing "gyp" as in meaning being cheated: "he gypped me," but figured we could do an entire thread on politically incorrect terms so am just staying away from those).
My attempt at language revival is using the suffix "er" the way we used to, before adding "more" to everything. I.e. Simpler, crazier, louder, older. It's rare to see young 'uns use language like that these days.
Favourite, forgotten words? Crepuscular, tatterdemalion, bonkers... I'll think of too many to list. I love the English language! I get the Shakespearian insult of the day on my homepage, and it's usually full of oldies but goodies.