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A cushion is a soft bag of some ornamental material, stuffed with wool, hair, feathers, polyester staple fiber, non-woven material, or even paper torn into fragments. It may be used for sitting or kneeling upon, or to soften the hardness or angularity of a chair or couch.
Cushions and rugs can be used temporarily outside to soften a hard ground. They can be placed on sunloungers and used to prevent annoyances from moist grass and biting insects. Some dialects of English use this word to refer to throw pillows as well.
The cushion is a very ancient article of furniture; the inventories of the contents of palaces and great houses in the early Middle Ages constantly made mention of them. Cushions were then often of great size, covered with leather, and firm enough to serve as a seat, but the steady tendency of all furniture has been to grow smaller with time.
Cushions were, indeed, used as seats at all events in France and Spain at a very much later period, and in Saint-Simon's time it is found that in the Spanish court they were still regarded as a peculiarly honourable substitute for a chair. In France, the right to kneel upon a cushion in church behind the king was jealously guarded and strictly regulated, as it is learnt again from Saint-Simon. This type of cushion was called a carreau, or square. When seats were rude and hard, cushions may have been a necessity; they are now one of the minor luxuries of life.
The word cushion comes from Middle English cusshin, from Anglo-French cussin, quissin, from Vulgar Latin *coxinus, and from Latin coxa, hip. The first known use of the word cushion was in the 14th century.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cushion". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press