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What is a Hassock?

By J. Beam
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hassock is essentially the same thing as a footstool or ottoman, a small, cushioned piece of furniture that serves as a footrest or small seat. The word is of English origin and also refers to a cushion used in churches to kneel on when praying. It can also mean a small, dense, tuft of grass that forms a hillock or tussock. The words hassock, footstool, and ottoman can be properly interchanged in most situations, except for when referring to a grassy area.

In the home, a hassock or ottoman is a separate piece of furniture. Usually upholstered in leather or upholstery fabric, it can be moved about the room and placed in front of any other piece of furniture to use as a footstool. Its function is to provide a comfortable padded place to prop up the feet.

In furniture retail, a hassock is generally sold as an ottoman in living room furniture sets. Generally speaking, a living room suite consisting of a couch, love seat, and chair will also have a matching ottoman available. Generally, this stool is big enough to serve as an extra seating space in a pinch. It might be round, square, or oval in shape. In its true sense, it may not be quite large enough to be considered comfortable seating space.

Shoppers can also purchase a hassock separate from furniture groupings. Some are designed to serve both as a footstool and as storage. Square-shaped, upholstered ones with a hinged or fitted top over a hollow interior provide hidden storage space. Owners can simply lift or remove the lid and store blankets, movies, games, or other items that they want handy in the living or family room but don’t use regularly.

In the true sense of the word, a hassock is padded with cushion and is not merely a wooden footstool. Though the type used for kneeling upon to pray in church more closely resembles a throw pillow, they are generally thicker and more uniformly padded.

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Discussion Comments
By Penzance356 — On Jun 01, 2011

@aviva - I am fascinated by language and the way it differs between countries. learning the various words for one item is a good way of expanding your vocabulary.

Regarding hassock vs ottoman, we had the latter in my childhood home but it was quite long and used as a storage place for bedding. I would use the term pouffe instead of hassock but never substitute ottoman, as to me it is a completely different thing.

By aviva — On May 31, 2011

@ellafarris - Those aren't the only names given to the hassock. My Welsh family always called it a "tuffet". And my English friends used the term "pouffe".

Hassock's definition of being a cushioned footstool or low seat with no back is the same definition given for tuffet and pouffe.

By ellafarris — On May 31, 2011

Interesting article. I haven't heard the term hassock since my grandfather passed away nearly ten years ago.

Growing up, my parents always called it a footstool and now my children and I call the little round hassock an ottaman.

Funny how one little piece of furniture can have so many names. We don't actually need one anymore since our sofa reclines on both ends.

By anon63902 — On Feb 04, 2010

Hassock is a hard cushion where devotees kneel down and pray holistically .It also symbolises a mark of fellowship and humanistic fold of universal living in a spiritual manner and content. It denotes value in art and spiritual culture in realism.

By liborosion — On Jan 08, 2008

Thank you for this article. There is only two good sources over the web about hassocks hassock and wisegeek.

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