Word of the Day




a piece of furniture that is sold in parts, which the customer must then fit together

Origin and usage

The term flat-pack is a compound formed by joining together the adjective ‘flat’ and the noun ‘pack’. Although it was first used to refer to a type of electronic component, flat-pack is commonly used to refer to a type of furniture that is sold in parts for the customer to put together, or to the pack itself. In this meaning the word has been around since the early 1980s: the first citation for flat-pack in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1982 as an adjective and 1991 as a noun.


Although the term flat-pack used to refer to furniture that you buy in pieces and put together yourself has been around since the early 1980s, the term really took off after the Swedish furniture group IKEA opened its first store in the UK in Warrington in 1987. It was then that the British, ever keen on a bargain, started spending large parts of their weekends in vast warehouses on out-of-town retail parks, wandering through room sets full of clean-cut Scandinavian design, wrestling the unexpectedly heavy packages off the shelves in the warehouse, and ending up at the checkout wondering if they really need another set of table mats, two boxes of tumblers and three irresistibly priced house plants. And although assembling flat-pack furniture is supposed to be straightforward, many people find it so difficult and stressful that they are prepared to pay someone else to put it together for them.


“Despite the simple designs and ‘easy-to-follow’ instructions, new research found 44 per cent of adults in the UK are unable to assemble flat-pack furniture.”
(Daily Mail)

Related words

fitment, fitting, suite

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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