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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1550s, "little tuft," from Old French touffel (with diminutive suffix -et for French -el), diminutive of touffe (see tuft). Obsolete except in the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" (1843), where it has been felt to mean "hassock, footstool."\n\nLITTLE Miss Muffet\n
Sat on a tuffet\n
And made of her knees such display\n
That the old fashioned spider,\n
Embarrassed beside her,\n
Was actually frightened away!\n

[Life Oct. 1, 1927]


n. 1 A clump of grass or similar vegetation. 2 (context furniture English) A large cushion which may have an internal frame, used as a low seat or stool. 3 An inflatable cushion serving as landing area for precision accuracy parachuting.


A tuffet, pouffe or '''hassock ''' is a piece of furniture used as a footstool or low seat. It is distinguished from a stool in that it is completely covered in cloth so that no legs are visible, and is essentially a large hard cushion that may have an internal wooden frame to give it more rigidity.

Wooden feet may be added to the base to give it stability, at which point it becomes a stool or a footstool. If the piece is larger, with storage space inside it, then it is generally known as an ottoman.

The term hassock has a special association with churches, where it is used to describe the thick cushions (also called kneelers) employed by the congregation to kneel on while in prayer.

Usage examples of "tuffet".

Every time Little Miss Muffet sits her tush down on a tuffet, something happens to it.

They slowly quieted down, from chatters to twitters to cooings, and at last were silent, two tiny tuffets of terror.

It hints at depression brought on by Humpty's obvious eating disorder and draws support from an interview he once gave on The Tuffet, a popular Toy City TV chat show hosted by the ever-youthful Miss Muffet, on which Humpty spoke at length about his weight problem.

The floor of the stage was carpeted with fake grass, on which stood a number of stools fashioned to resemble tuffets and arranged in a semi-circle.

Next to the church behind ancient stone walls hung with tuffets of mauve aubrietia lurked a charming rectory.