Ottoman (furniture)

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An ottoman in a living room

An ottoman is a piece of furniture consisting of a padded, upholstered seat or bench, usually having neither a back nor arms, often used as a stool or footstool,[1][2] or, in some cases, as a coffee table.[3] Ottomans are often sold as coordinating furniture with armchairs or gliders.[4]

An ottoman can also be known as a footstool,[5] tuffet,[6] hassock,[7] pouf or pouffe.[8][9] Many ottomans are hollow and used for storage.[10]

Ottomans can be used in other rooms besides the living room; different designs can be used in the bedroom, gaming room, family room and guest room.[11] Leather and bench ottomans are also used as alternatives to sofas.[12]

History[edit]

The ottoman was brought to Europe from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century. The word ottomane to refer to furniture appeared at least as early as 1729 in French.[13] The first known recorded use in English occurs in one of Thomas Jefferson's memorandum books from 1789: "P[ai]d. for an Ottomane of velours d'Utrecht."[14] In the Ottoman Empire itself, an ottoman was the central piece of family seating and was piled with cushions. In Europe, the ottoman was first designed as a piece of fitted furniture that wrapped around three walls of a room. The ottoman evolved into a smaller version that fit into the corner of a room.[15]

Ottomans took on a circular or octagonal shape through the 19th century, with seating divided in the center by arms or by a central, padded column that might hold a plant or statue. As night clubs became more popular, so did the ottoman, which began to have hinged seats underneath to hold magazines.[15]

Popular culture[edit]

In the iconic The Dick Van Dyke Show television series from the 1960s, a running gag, including some opening title scenes, featured title character Rob Petrie stumbling around or over an ottoman.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ottoman". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Ottoman". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved May 2012. 
  3. ^ "How to Use Ottomans for Coffee Tables". Overstock.com. Retrieved May 2012. 
  4. ^ "How to Match an Ottoman and Chair". Overstock.com. Retrieved May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Footstool". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tuffet". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hassock". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Pouf (seat)". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Retrieved May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Pouf". dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Furniture Ottoman". Indobase.com. Retrieved May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Ottomans For Decoration and Storage". Public Design Center. Retrieved May 2012. 
  12. ^ "Ottomans For Decoration and Storage". Public Design Center. Retrieved May 2012. 
  13. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ottoman". Encyclopædia Britannica 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 376. 
  14. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "ottoman", accessed 6 March 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Ottoman". Britannica. Retrieved May 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • Aronson, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Furniture. 
  • "Ottoman". EtymologyOnLine.