Comfort (or comfortability, or being comfortable) is a sense of physical or psychological ease, often characterized as a lack of hardship. Persons who are lacking in comfort are uncomfortable, or experiencing discomfort. A degree of psychological comfort can be achieved by recreating experiences that are associated with pleasant memories, such as engaging in familiar activities, maintaining the presence of familiar objects, and consumption of comfort foods. Comfort is a particular concern in health care, as providing comfort to the sick and injured is one goal of healthcare, and can facilitate recovery. Persons who are surrounded with things that provide psychological comfort may be described as being within their comfort zone.
Because of the personal nature of positive associations, psychological comfort is highly subjective.
The use of "comfort" as a verb generally implies that the subject is in a state of pain, suffering or affliction, and requires alleviation from that state. Where the term is used to describe the support given to someone who has experienced a tragedy, the word is synonymous with consolation or solace. However, comfort is used much more broadly, as one can provide physical comfort to someone who is not in a position to be uncomfortable. For example, a person might sit in a chair without discomfort, but still find the addition of a pillow to the chair to increase their feeling of comfort.
Like certain other terms describing positive feelings or abstractions (hope, charity, chastity), comfort may also be used as a personal name.
- Comfort food
- Comfort noise, artificial background noise used in radio and wireless communications to fill the silent time in a transmission
- Comfort object, an object used to provide psychological comfort
- Comfort women, a euphemism for women who were forced to work as sex slaves in Japanese-occupied countries during World War II
- Comfort zone, the term used to denote a type of mental conditioning resulting in artificially created mental boundaries, within which an individual derives a sense of security
- Thermal comfort, a field of specialization in building indoor environment
- Daniel Miller, The Comfort of Things (2009).
- Katharine Kolcaba, Comfort Theory and Practice: A Vision for Holistic Health Care and Research (2003).
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