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[ma-tris] /ˈmæ trɪs/
a large pad for supporting the reclining body, used as or on a bed, consisting of a quilted or similarly fastened case, usually of heavy cloth, that contains hair, straw, cotton, foam rubber, etc., or a framework of metal springs.
a mat woven of brush, poles, or similar material, used to prevent erosion of the surface of dikes, jetties, embankments, dams, etc.
a layer of concrete placed on bare ground, as to provide a footing; mat.
a layer of any material used to cushion, protect, reinforce, or the like.
Origin of mattress
1250-1300; Middle English materas < Old French < Italian materasso < Arabic maṭraḥ mat, cushion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mattress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The shirt was clotted with blood; so were the mattress under him and the floor.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • They put a mattress in the bottom of the cart, and plenty of blankets.

    Heather and Snow George MacDonald
  • Captain Beaudoin was again resting on his mattress in the large room.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • Etienne could sleep in the shop, on a mattress on the floor, that was all.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • When the mattress was empty she got thirty sous for the sack so as to be able to have coffee.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for mattress


a large flat pad with a strong cover, filled with straw, foam rubber, etc, and often incorporating coiled springs, used as a bed or as part of a bed
Also called Dutch mattress. a woven mat of brushwood, poles, etc, used to protect an embankment, dyke, etc, from scour
a concrete or steel raft or slab used as a foundation or footing Sometimes shortened to mat
a network of reinforcing rods or expanded metal sheeting, used in reinforced concrete
(civil engineering) another name for blinding (sense 3)
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Italian materasso, from Arabic almatrah place where something is thrown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mattress

late 13c., from Old French materas (12c., Modern French matelas), from Italian materasso and directly from Medieval Latin matracium, borrowed in Sicily from Arabic al-matrah "the cushion" (cf. Spanish almadraque "mattress," Provençal almatrac), literally "the thing thrown down," from taraha "he threw (down)."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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