Posted by Brian from Shawnee on January 08, 2004
In Reply to: Cocktail Table/Coffee Table posted by ward on January 08, 2004
: : : : : This morning I heard a furniture store ad on the radio, and they were advertising "cocktail tables", among other items. It struck me as odd, because although in our house when I was growing up we always referred to the long, low table in front of the sofa as the "cocktail table", I've noticed that most people say "coffee table".
: : : : : I wonder which is more common? Could one or the other be regional? I can't believe there's an actual difference (that they are distinct types of tables). I grew up in metropolitan New Jersey near New York City, from the early 1960's on...
: : : : I always called it a cocktail table as well. I'm not sure which term is more popular, but they don't call it a "cocktail table book", do they? :)
: : : Folks on White Oak Mountain (W.Va.) didn't drink cocktails. It was a "coffee table." I've never heard people refer to it as a cocktail table.
: : New Joy-zee??
: : A bit west of ya in New Yawk City we called it a coffee table.
: :::: I've lived all over the states, and it's a coffee table in your home. Seems to me a cocktail table is that little round thing you sit at in Vegas, which holds two or four expensive drinks while you watch the stage show.
M-W.com says they are the same thing. Coffee table dates from 1877, while cocktail table dates from 1939. "Coffee-table" as an adjective, as in "coffee-table book" dates from 1962.
I'll say my gut feeling is that "cocktail table" was the trendy term back in the 1950's and into the 60's. Although my parents are anything but trendy... I'm gonna do some more research.