1550s, "little tuft," from Old French touffel (with diminutive suffix -et for French -el), diminutive of touffe (see tuft). Obsolete except in the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" (1843), where it has been felt to mean "hassock, footstool."
LITTLE Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
And made of her knees such display
That the old fashioned spider,
Embarrassed beside her,
Was actually frightened away!
[Life Oct. 1, 1927]
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