couch potato

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Informal. a person whose leisure time is spent watching television.
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Origin of couch potato

First recorded in 1980–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does couch potato mean?

Couch potato is a slang term for a person who spends a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV or otherwise lazily lounging and loafing around.

Couch potato is often used in a mildly negative way to criticize a person for spending too much time doing this instead of doing more productive activities. But it can also be used in a more neutral way. For example, someone might say they like to relax by spending the weekend as a couch potato.

Example: You kids should go outside and play once in a while instead of spending the whole summer watching TV and being couch potatoes!

Where does couch potato come from?

Couch potato first came into use as a slang term around 1980. In the ’80s, cartoonist Robert Armstrong trademarked the term and used it in cartoons that featured a potato character sitting on a sofa watching TV. Armstrong said he first heard it from his friend Tom Iacino, who said that it was just a simple joke he used to tease his friends who watched a lot of TV.

Couch potato can be used as a general term for a lazy person, but it usually refers to a person who literally slouches on the couch all day, especially to watch the TV. The term always implies that it’s not time well spent. Someone who sat on the couch all day reading would not be called a couch potato. It’s usually used as a mild term of disapproval, especially when suggesting that someone get up and go do something else. Since the word came into widespread use, many more ways of loafing around have been introduced, including, of course, sitting in front of a computer. Before laptops were popular, people who sat in front of their computer all day were occasionally called mouse potatoes (a pun on couch potato and mouse as in a computer mouse), but the term didn’t catch on like couch potato did.

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What are some other forms related to couch potato?

  • couch potatoes (plural)

What are some synonyms for couch potato?

What are some words that share a root or word element with couch potato

What are some words that often get used in discussing couch potato?


How is couch potato used in real life?

Couch potato is typically used negatively, but usually in a mild way that’s also intended to be a bit funny. It almost always implies that someone is wasting time.



Try using couch potato!

Which of the following terms best describes what a couch potato does?

A. loaf around
B. laze about
C. lounge
D. all of the above

How to use couch potato in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for couch potato

couch potato

slang a lazy person whose recreation consists chiefly of watching television and videos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012