Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[tas-uh l] /ˈtæs əl/
a pendent ornament consisting commonly of a bunch of threads, small cords, or other strands hanging from a roundish knob or head, used on clothing, in jewelry, on curtains, etc.
something resembling this, as the inflorescence of certain plants, especially that at the summit of a stalk of corn.
verb (used with object), tasseled, tasseling or (especially British) tasselled, tasselling.
to furnish or adorn with tassels.
to form into a tassel or tassels.
to remove the tassel from (growing corn) in order to improve the crop.
verb (used without object), tasseled, tasseling or (especially British) tasselled, tasselling.
(of corn) to put forth tassels (often followed by out).
Origin of tassel
1250-1300; Middle English (noun) < Old French tas(s)el fastening for cloak < Vulgar Latin *tassellus, blend of Latin tessella (diminutive of tessera die for gaming) and taxillus (diminutive of tālus die for gaming). See tessellate, talus1
Related forms
tasseler; especially British, tasseller, noun
tasselly; especially British, tasselly, adjective
detassel, verb (used with object), detasseled, detasseling or (especially British) detasselled, detasselling.
untasseled, adjective
untasselled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tassel
Historical Examples
  • This knot will be in the ball part of the tassel and will help to make it round.

  • Taking up the cord of his dressing-gown, she pulled it by its tassel.

    Fraternity John Galsworthy
  • One hand, the left, is at rest; the other holds a tassel hanging from a girdle.

    Famous European Artists Sarah K. Bolton
  • The pendent ornament called a tassel is a diminutive of Mid.

  • This extraordinary physiognomy was covered with a high cap, which had a tassel and bells.

    Ernest Bracebridge William H. G. Kingston
  • This tassel is for catching the blood and preventing it from greasing the handle.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • She returned his bow quietly, leaned forward and touched the colt with the tassel of her whip.

    Flint Maud Wilder Goodwin
  • Do you mean Elizabeth March, who got the tassel prize this year?

    Miss Pat at School Pemberton Ginther
  • Her hair was partly covered with a net of diamonds from which a tassel of immense diamonds fell to her shoulders.

    Old French Fairy Tales Comtesse de Sgur
  • With sharp scissors trim the edge of the tassel which now is complete.

British Dictionary definitions for tassel


a tuft of loose threads secured by a knot or ornamental knob, used to decorate soft furnishings, clothes, etc
anything resembling this tuft, esp the tuft of stamens at the tip of a maize inflorescence
verb -sels, -selling, -selled (US) -sels, -seling, -seled
(transitive) to adorn with a tassel or tassels
(intransitive) (of maize) to produce stamens in a tuft
(transitive) to remove the tassels from
Derived Forms
tasselly, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Vulgar Latin tassellus (unattested), changed from Latin taxillus a small die, from tālus gaming die
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tassel

c.1300, "mantle fastener," from Old French tassel "a fastening, clasp" (mid-12c.), from Vulgar Latin *tassellus, said to be from Latin taxillus "small die or cube," a diminutive of talus "knucklebone, 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for tassel

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for tassel

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for tassel