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See also: arm-chair


Armchair from the Pearson Scott Foresman collection

Alternative forms[edit]


From arm +‎ chair.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɑː(ɹ)mtʃɛə(ɹ)/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɑɹmt͡ʃɛɚ/
  • (file)


armchair (plural armchairs)

  1. A chair with supports for the arms or elbows.
    Hypernyms: chair, furniture
    Meronym: arm
    Coordinate terms: couch, sofa
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC, page 184:
      There were many wooden chairs for the bulk of his visitors, and two wicker arm-chairs with red cloth cushions for superior people. From the packing-cases had also emerged some Indian clubs, []; and all these articles [] made a scattered and untidy decoration that Mrs. Clough assiduously dusted and greatly cherished.
    • 1928, A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner:
      [] when he suddenly saw Piglet sitting in his best arm-chair, he could only stand there rubbing his head and wondering whose house he was in.



armchair (not comparable)

  1. (figurative) Remote from actual involvement, including a person retired from previously active involvement.
    These days I'm an armchair detective.
    armchair travels
    • 2009 January 13, Giles Tremlett, “Google Earth brings masterpieces from Prado museum direct to armchair art lovers”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Armchair tourists who are used to travelling the globe with Google Earth can now use the same technology to crawl all over the masterpieces in one of the world's most famous galleries: the Prado.
    • 2013 March 17, John Kaag, “Drones, Ethics and the Armchair Soldier”, in New York Times Opinionator[2]:
      My point here is not that these new armchair soldiers are to be criticized for failing in their moral responsibilities. My point is rather that while drones are to be applauded for keeping these soldiers out of harm’s way physically, we would do well to remember that they do not keep them out of harm’s way morally or psychologically.
    • 2015 April 11, Bridget Christie, “We’re a nation of armchair activists – what’s wrong with that?”, in The Guardian[3]:
      E-petitions have turned us all into armchair activists, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
    • 2018 October 9, Michael Schwirtz, Ellen Barry, “Armchair Investigators at Front of British Inquiry Into Spy Poisoning”, in The New York Times[4], →ISSN:
      Armchair Investigators at Front of British Inquiry Into Spy Poisoning [title]
  2. (figurative) Unqualified or uninformed but yet giving advice, especially on technical issues, such as law, architecture, medicine, military theory, or sports; relating to such advice.
    He's just an armchair lawyer who thinks he knows a lot about the law because he reads a legal blog.
    After the game, the armchair quarterbacks talked about what they would have done differently to win.
    • 2005 April 17, Patrick D. Healy, “Gay Republicans Soldier On, One Skirmish at a Time”, in The New York Times[5], →ISSN:
      If and when Ms. Cheney decides to marry, it will be interesting to see who offers best wishes, who offers armchair psychoanalysis, and who minds his own business.

Derived terms[edit]



armchair (third-person singular simple present armchairs, present participle armchairing, simple past and past participle armchaired)

  1. To create based on theory or general knowledge rather than data.
    • 1966, Sales Management - Volume 97, Issues 8-14, page 31:
      Research for program's subject matter is like mining gold. The more raw material we have, the more likely we are going to find gold nuggets. But this step is often overlooked and a program is "armchaired" from the office of the vice-president or vice-president of sales.
    • 1970, Carmen J. Finley, Frances S. Berdie, The national assessment approach to exercise development, page 84:
      The very serious question is then raised as to whether reasonable and logical distractors can be "armchaired" or whether the practice of administering a question in open-end format to obtain logical distractors is a better procedure.
    • 1976, John Mordechai Gottman, A couple's guide to communication, page xxv:
      We think it makes sense to generate interventions empirically by finding out how couples deal with conflict, rather than by armchairing interventions.
  2. To theorize based on analysis of data that was gathered previously; to reflect.
    • 1968, Daniel C. Pfannstiel, Barbara H. Matthews, Cooperative extension organization and administration:
      In past years, we administered this questionnaire and gave the results to the president who sat at a conference table with top management and armchaired some answers.
    • 1976, Dato N De Gruijter, Leo J. Th. van der Kamp, Advances in Psychological and Educational Measurement, page 113:
      Briefly it may be stated: Operations come first; concepts follow; theory aims at developing concepts, from operations, plus a nomological network for those concepts, which explains the structure of the data obtained through those operations. And this does not exclude the theorist from doing some 'armchairing' in thinking about logically consistent models, their empirical pentialities, their assumptions and their implications; he may, and usually will, venture some possible empirical interpretations of a model, but in doing so he will carefully avoid any substantive (nonformal) pre-operational definition of a concept or construct.
    • 2012, Richard Rhodes, Deadly Feasts:
      Even before the Glasses had arrived in New Guinea, two American anthropologists at Tulane University, Ann and J. L. Fischer, had armchaired a connection between kuru and cannibalism by working their way through the findings of a team of anthropologists who had studied the Fore in the early 1950s, Ronald and Catherine Berndt, as well as the many papers on kuru that Gajdusek, Zigas and various Australian investigators had published.

See also[edit]