Great Bed of Ware, carved, inlaid, and painted wood, English, late 16th century; in the Victoria …—Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Crown copyright reserved

Piece of furniture on which a person may recline or sleep. Beds of simple construction appear in medieval manuscripts, as do more decorative beds with carving and inlay, embroidered coverlets, and elaborate hangings. The canopy, or tester, was introduced in the 15th century. In the 1820s the development of coiled springs fitted into mattresses revolutionized the bed. In the Middle East beds consisted of rugs piled up on the floor. In China raised and canopied beds were used 2,000 years ago. The traditional Japanese bed (futon) consists of quilted padding and a coverlet arranged on the floor.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on bed, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up bed? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.