MATTRESS (O.Fr. materas, mod. matelas; the origin is the Arab, al-materah, cushion, whence Span, and Port, almadraque, Ital. materasso), the padded foundation of a bed, formed of canvas or other stout material stuffed with wool, hair, flock or straw; in the last case it is properly known as a " palliasse " (Fr. paille, straw; Lat. palea); but this term is often applied to an under-mattress stuffed with substances other than straw. The padded mattress on which lay the feather-bed has been replaced by the " wire-mattress," a network of wire stretched on a light wooden or iron frame, which is either a separate structure or a component part of the bedstead itself. The "wire-mattress" has taken the place of the " spring mattress," in which spiral springs support the stuffing. The term " mattress " is used in engineering for a mat of brushwood, faggots, etc., corded together and used as a foundation or as surface in the construction of dams, jetties, dikes, etc.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)