cushion

Definitions

General English

  • noun a bag filled with something soft, e.g. feathers, for sitting or leaning on
  • verb to make soft something which could be hard or painful

Accounting

  • noun money which allows a company to pay interest on its borrowings or to survive a loss

Construction

  • Wood placed so as to absorb a force by acting as a buffer or by transmitting it over a larger area.
  • A stone placed to accept and spread out a vertical load.
  • An isolating pad against shock and vibration for glass, machinery, equipment, etc.

Food

  • A cut of lamb, veal or beef from the inside top of the rear leg

Publishing

  • noun a soft pad on which a leatherbound book is placed for tooling

Origin & History of “cushion”

Ultimately, cushion and quilt are the same word. Both come from Latin culcita ‘mattress, cushion’, which is related to Sanskrit kūrcás ‘bundle’, and both reached English via rather circuitous routes. In Gallo-Roman (the descendant of Latin spoken in France from the 5th to the 9th centuries) culcita underwent a transformation which produced Old French coissin and cussin, which middle English borrowed as quisshon and cushin. The complexity of forms spawned by these was quite staggering – the OED records nearly seventy spellings of the word – but by the 17th century things had settled down, with cushion emerging the winner.

Cushy (20th c.), incidentally, is quite unrelated, being a borrowing from Hindi khūsh ‘pleasant’.
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