A love seat, sometimes spelled "loveseat," traditionally means a small sofa or couch. The term most likely derives from the fact that its diminutive size can only allow a maximum of two people to comfortably sit together at a given time.
Popular culture would have us believe that the love seat originated as a very wide chair. This wide chair came about as an answer to the pressing need of women in previous centuries to be able to sit down while attired in the voluminous fashions of their day. As use of crinolines and petticoats declined, people began to notice the extra space in their chairs. And thus, the love seat was born.
Whether the above notion is true or not is debatable. What is certain, however, is that most people do agree that the love seat first gained popularity during the Victorian era. Its virtue was seen in the fact that it allowed courting couples to sit close enough to each other that they could talk without being overheard, and yet still not touch. The love seat addressed the lovers' desire for private conversation, while still maintaining an appearance of decency and prudence as was required by the social norms of the day.
Like its larger sister, the couch, or sofa, the love seat was first seen as an elitist piece of furniture, used only by the upper classes. However, during the Industrial Revolution as couches and sofas found their way into the homes of the working class, the love seat also gained a following. In recent years, it has become somewhat of a staple in more compact city homes, and has become nearly indispensable to the newly-independent small apartment dweller.
A modern love seat usually measures anywhere from 53 - 60 inches (127 cm -152 cm) in width, 34-38 inches (86 cm - 96 cm) in height, and about 34-38 inches (86 cm - 96 cm)in depth. Of course, the height and depth measurements may vary, although it is generally accepted that a couch measuring drastically more than 60 inches (152 cm) in width might be too large to only fit two. Modern love seats comes in many designs, colors, and materials, and may even accompany a regular couch as part of a set. They are sold in most furniture shops.