All about tuffets

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1940s poster promoting reading among children, depicting Little Miss Muffet sitting upon a tuffet

Hassocks stacked up in Salisbury Cathedral

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 employed by the congregation to kneel on while in prayer.


The names tuffet and hassock are both derived from English names for "a small grassy hillock or clump of grass", in use since at least the sixteenth century. The word tuffet comes from Anglo-French tuffete, from *tufe "tuft". The first known use of the word tuffet was in 1553.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary does not recognize the use of "tuffet" for a piece of furniture, and the Oxford English Dictionary says that it only "perhaps" means hassock or footstool, suggesting that this usage is due to a misunderstanding of the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet.

Pouffe is a nineteenth-century French import for "something puffed out".

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