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From Middle English materas, from Old French, from Arabic مَطْرَح (maṭraḥ, place where something is thrown), from طَرَحَ (ṭaraḥa, to throw). Compare divan, from Persian via Turkish (both of Middle Eastern origin, due to the local custom of lying on padding on floor being foreign to Europeans).


  • IPA(key): /ˈmætɹɪs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ætɹɪs


mattress (plural mattresses)

  1. A pad on which a person can recline and sleep, usually having an inner section of coiled springs covered with foam or other cushioning material then enclosed with cloth fabric.
  2. A form of retaining wall used to support foundations or an embankment
  3. A form of lagging, in particular for boilers.
    • 1941 April, “British Locomotive Developments”, in The Railway Magazine, London: Tothill Press, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 173:
      Spun glass mattresses are used for lagging the boiler, which has three Ross pop safety valves on the front ring.
    • 1951 March, “British Railways Standard "Britannia" Class 4-6-2 Locomotives”, in Railway Magazine, page 185:
      The boiler and firebox are lagged with a lightweight Fibreglass mattress.

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mattress (third-person singular simple present mattresses, present participle mattressing, simple past and past participle mattressed)

  1. (transitive) To cover with a thick layer, like a mattress; to blanket.
    • 1997, Andrew R. M. Patterson, A planet through a field of stars, page 123:
      A comfortable litter of pine needles had mattressed the ground and spreading branches had been a canopy overhead.