1940s poster promoting reading among children
Hassocks stacked up in Salisbury Cathedral

A tuffet, pouffe or hassock is a piece of furniture used as a footstool or low seat.[1] It is distinguished from a stool by being completely covered in cloth so that no legs are visible. It 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.[2]

Hassock has special association with churches, as it is used to describe the thick cushions employed by the congregation to kneel on while in prayer.[3]


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".[4] The first known use of the word tuffet was in 1553.[4]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary does not recognize the use of "tuffet" for a piece of furniture,[5] 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.[6]

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


  1. ^Driscoll, Michael; Meredith Hamiltion; Marie Coons (May 2003). A Child's Introduction Poetry. 151 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. p. 10. ISBN 1-57912-282-5. 
  2. ^"Ottoman". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  3. ^Church Hassocks Booklet describing how to make Church Hassocks.
  4. ^ a b"Tuffet". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
  5. ^Kirkpatrick, E. M. (1983). Chambers 20th Century Dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers. ISBN 0550102345. 
  6. ^"tuffet, n.". OED Online. September 2014. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/207277?redirectedFrom=tuffet (accessed 30 September 2014).
  7. ^Decorating : Upholstery : Crazy Quilted Tuffet : Home & Garden Television

Further reading

  • Michael Immerwahr (2002). "Improved Scene Shop Tuffets". In Bronislaw Joseph Sammler, Yale School of Drama Department of Technical Design and Production, Don Harvey. Technical Design Solutions for Theatre: the technical brief collection. Focal Press. p. 250. ISBN 0240804929. —a proposed design for a four-wheel tuffet, to replace the three-wheeled design used by the Yale School of Drama