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Tuffet PNG Transparent Images

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Submitted by on Oct 4, 2021

A tuffet is either a tiny grassy mound or clump of grass, or a low seat.

The nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet,” first written in 1805, has become synonymous with the term. It was originally a variation of the term “tuft,” which was first used in the 16th century to describe a tuft of leaves or flowers. The term may refer to a grassy hillock, a tiny knoll, or a mound in the nursery rhyme. The term has also evolved to indicate a low seat, maybe due to a misinterpretation of the rhyme.

Several writers have voiced doubt regarding the rhyme’s meaning due to its lack of context. Samuel M. Crothers commented in 1902, “Some of you might be interested in learning what a tuffet is. That is something I have considered and have asked numerous knowledgeable people about. They assure me that the most full and acceptable definition is: a tuffet is something Miss Muffet would sit on.”

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An artwork by Arthur Rackham from 1913 depicting a tuffet as a grassy hill.
The nursery rhyme’s phrase might relate to “a grassy hillock, a tiny knoll or mound,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The word “tuffet” was first recorded in 1553, with the similar meaning “tuft” (for example, a cluster of short-stalked leaves or flowers growing from a common point). According to Merriam-Webster, the word comes from the Anglo-French tuffete, which comes from the word “tufe,” which means “tuft.”

Many artists, notably John Everett Millais (1884) and Arthur Rackham, have shown Miss Muffet seated on a mound or hillock (1913).

A tuffet as a three-legged stool, as seen in a Kate Greenaway illustration from 1900.

A tuffet as a low seat, as seen in a Frederick Richardson picture from 1915.

A tuffet is depicted as a low seat in a 1940 poster.

The additional term “hassock or footstool,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “doubtful.” It gives two examples: one from 1895 that means “three-legged stool” and another from 1904 that means “footstool.” Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) and Chambers 20th Century Dictionary (1983) both failed to recognize this meaning and only cited the grassy knoll term. Nonetheless, artists such as Kate Greenaway (1900) and Frederick Richardson have a long history of depicting a low seat (1915).

“She sat on a buffet,” according to historians Iona and Peter Opie, is a clear reference to a stool in an 1888 variation of the rhyme.

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