I went to IKEA and got me a new sheet. It's awesome on the bed because instead of being "sheety", it's got those rubber parts so one doesn't fold it under the mattress to keep it in place but rather skewers it or maybe embraces it onto it.

  1. What's that kind of sheet called?
  2. What's the traditional, foldy, kind called?
  3. What's the right verb to describe the thing you do with the new kind of sheet?
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    "Skewering" does not seem like something a bedsheet can do.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:28
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    Did you mean "secures it" instead of "skewers it"?
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 22:51
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    As a side-note, "I went and got me a ..." is marked and only good for some dialects of English. The more standard way to say it would be "I went to IKEA and got a new sheet." or "I went to IKEA and got myself a new sheet."
    – Gossar
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 3:07
  • 2
    +1 for the (unintended?) pun on "sheety".
    – March Ho
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 5:13
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    @Jasper If one considers the whole bed as a stick (very short and quite think, that is) and the sheet as a baggy film, then - using a lot of imagination - one could view it as a commenced skewering process that hasn't perforated the fabric yet. Having said that, it was a linguistic hack in lack of better verb. Feel free to suggest one more adequate in this situation, hehe. And I didn't mean secure, rather embrace. I looked up the Swedish word for it and this is what I got. We use that verb both for putting stuff on a stick and for e.g. a condom. We Swedes are weird... :) Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 6:32

4 Answers 4


Fitted is the word you are looking for, a fitted sheet is the sheet above the mattress that has extra fabric to extend around the mattress and an elasticized outer edges to fit around the mattress holding it in place.

The other sheet is a flat sheet referred to as a standard bed sheet or drop sheet or top sheet.

When you are putting fresh linens on a bed, you are making up a bed.
The opposite is to strip (down) a bed.

The total effect of putting a bed together (sheets, pillows, covers) is called dressing a bed

When you are tidying up a bed after sleeping in it, you are making a bed.
The common command by parents

Go make your bed!

Before going to sleep, some hotels will turn down your bed by folding back the covers and (if you're lucky) leaving a chocolate on the fluffed pillows.

If you are in a mischievous mood, you can short sheet a bed; a common prank played on newlyweds.

We spend about a third of our life on top of a fitted sheet (usually), this intimate and fated relationship has lead to the phrase

You've made your bed, now lie in it

since there's no escaping it.

  • 3
    In my dialect there is actually a distinction between "making the bed" and "making up the bed". I "make the bed" after I get up in the morning by smoothing out the sheets and pulling up the coverlet. I "make up the bed" on laundry day when I put fresh clean sheets on the bed. I don't know how common that distinction is. The opposite of making up the bed is stripping the sheets. The opposite of making the bed is turning down the bed.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 18:41
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    What dialect is that? Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 19:52
  • 2
    Flat sheets are also known as drop sheets. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 20:18
  • @ColleenV Totally unrelated to English - I'd like you to consider never making your bed. Apparently, when you put the covers on, the small, disgusting bed mites have a party. By letting in the cold, dry air, you kill them off. (Warning for unpleasant pictures - don't click when eating or of sensitive.) Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 6:53
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    @KonradViltersten Yup; "elastic" can be used as a noun. Its common when discussing fabric. In some places, it's also used to refer to the office supply item otherwise known as a "rubber band".
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 13:23

From Wikipedia...

a fitted sheet has its four corners, and sometimes two or four sides, fitted with elastic, to be used only as a bottom sheet.

You still make the bed regardless of whether it has a fitted sheet. But if it does, people often call the other one1 a top sheet to distinguish it from the elasticated one (a fitted sheet doesn't work on top).

1 If indeed there is another sheet - increasingly less likely as we move from top sheets under "itchy" blankets to removable covers on duvets.

  • 2
    Agreed, in common daily use I hear and use top sheet and bottom sheet. In a more commercial, technical, or formal setting I would use flat sheet and fitted sheet respectively.
    – Gossar
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 3:13
  • Hmm... Let alone that we Swedes are weird but top sheet and bottom sheet? The sheet I'm talking about tucks in the mattress and I sleep directly on it. The only thing that's on top of that is the cover... So vertical intersection would be: the cover/blanket, my butt, the sheet, the mattress, some air, the floor... How do others do...? Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 7:06
  • @KonradViltersten: We swedes normally use only a duvet cover and no top sheet. In other countries it seems common to use flat sheets on top as well - between yourself and the blanket (or whatever you have over yourself for warmth). Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 7:31
  • @EmilStyrke Oh, now I see... Last week, it'd be a great idea because we had negative 18 degrees in Stockholm and the heating in my building kind of died... I had to go to CleasOhlsson and get one of those ugly, blue heat fans or whatever it's called... Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 7:38
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    Since the top sheet is only a single layer I doubt it adds much warmth, but an extra blanket is useful in those cases of course. :) I think the blue thing would be called a "space heater", by the way. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 7:58

I'm going to have to make a trip to IKEA because it sounds like you are not describing a traditional fitted sheet. It sounds like you are describing a modified standard sheet where the corners have rubber (for grip) pockets sewn in such that the corners of the mattress fit into the rubber pockets of the sheet which holds the sheet firmly attached to the mattress like a fitted sheet. But this kind of sheet seems like it would be much easier to fold than a traditional fitted sheet. I would still say, "making the bed" with this kind of sheet, but to describe the specific action of hooking the sheet pocket around the mattress corner I would probably say I was, "buttoning" the sheet down, or "dressing" the mattress up.

  • No need to go to IKEA. The reason for my question is that while I love fitted sheets on the bed, folding the suckers is a major PIA. So I was looking for a life hack on how to do that. For that, I needed a term to search for. Now I got one. And violá - first hit on Google! I'm so happy now! Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 7:02
  • @Konrad: I'm so happy too! I've always made a dog's dinner of folding my fitted sheets, but I never thought of looking for a Youtube guide. (I'm looking forward to laundry day now, to see if it works! :) Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 12:54
  • @FumbleFingers Well, until recently I had an even better system. Two sets of sheets. One on the bed being used. The other in the hamper waiting for laundry. Then... Along came a third one and the whole system collapsed, resulting in me looking for life hacks, which led to this question. I'm seriously considering disposing one of the sets and get back to my non-folding system altogether, hehe. Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 16:22
  • A viola is a musical instrument. The word you're looking for is voilà. @KonradViltersten Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 22:09
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    The problem is more the order of the O and the I. Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 0:43

The name "Fitted Sheet" has already been given.

I was going to suggest "evil sheet of difficult foldiness and doom", but since I see that issue has been dealt with, I'll suggest instead contour sheet as a relatively uncommon synonym used -- so far as I can tell -- mostly by marketers trying to make them sound fancier.

I am interested by your description of them as "fancy" sheets. Growing up in the UK, I found beds with fitted sheets to be frowned upon as "not as good".

I think, though, that this might be more a factor of the amount of extra work needed to provide crisp linen sheets carefully tucked into the corners of the bed. So upmarket hotels generally provide tucked-in apple-pie beds because it provides the impression of hand-cared service, but likely also because there's no elastic to go out on them if you wash them very hot, so they last longer, and are probably cheaper.

  • 1
    I might guess that the evil sheets of difficult foldiness and doom could be spared from frowning for the same reason why home-grind beans are considered the base for a better coffee than instant coffee powder. Or eating on a silver platter or exclusive china being base for a culinary excellence? One needs to invest more work, it's more costly, so the reptile brains tells us it's better? Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 10:31
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    Also, I learned that in many cases, the less usual something is in a region, the more exclusive and desirable it becomes. In US, people pay top dollar for a car with an automatic transmission. Why, for duck's sake, why?! (Quack-a-roonie intended.) In Sweden, it's actually the opposite. If we want an automatic, it can bump up the price by 15%. (And for the record, the only way for manual to be desirable should be on a bike!) Commented Jan 30, 2016 at 10:36

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