The original coffee table, simply put, is a regular table with its legs cut off to make it lower to the ground. The Japanese already had these short tables figured out a long time ago. But as the Japanese were sitting on the floors with their legs crossed, the coffee table was to be used with a sofa. Its not very clear as to the exact time that the modern term "coffee table" came to use, but some put it around the late 18th century to the early 19th.
It would also include all furniture used in a lounge used only when visitors arrive, or even in a spare guest room. Definitions are a poor way to describe furniture. The second definition used occasionally would refer to exactly the same furniture, but also include rockers, particularly the old-style hickory rockers that you might use occasionally when in the mood. You might occasionally use an ottoman to sit on if all the family arrived to visit. Quite frankly, definitions are needless when people know what occasional furniture is.
Aside from wood, metal coffee tables are all the rage nowadays. Just like the wood, metal tables are sturdy and lightweight. The legs of a metal table are thinner than the top. Moreover, the legs are made into different weird shapes for style. Since metal is strong, the table provide better support than wood. Metal is resistant to water damage as well. Another great characteristic of a metal table is that its surface is smooth and has no ridges.
Coffee tables and end tables are examples of occasional furniture. There are alternative definitions for this type of furniture, the two most common being furniture that is used on an occasion, and furniture that is used only occasionally. Each of these definitions is so broad, that they could practically be said to be fundamentally the same. The former definition would include coffee tables, used on the occasion of drinking coffee - or any other beverage or drink.
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