Etymology
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tassel (n.)

c. 1300, "mantle fastener," from Old French tassel "tassel, fringe, hem; a fastening, clasp" (12c., Modern French tasseau), from Vulgar Latin *tassellus, said to be from Latin taxillus "small die or cube," a diminutive of talus "knucklebone (used as a die in gaming), ankle" (see talus (n.1)). But OED finds this doubtful and calls attention to the variant form tossel and suggests association with toss (v.). Meaning "hanging bunch of small cords" is first recorded late 14c.

updated on January 15, 2014

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Definitions of tassel from WordNet

tassel (n.)
adornment consisting of a bunch of cords fastened at one end;
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.