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From Middle English cofin, from Old Northern French cofin (sarcophagus", earlier "basket, coffer), from Latin cophinus (basket), a loanword from Ancient Greek κόφινος (kóphinos, a basket).



coffin (plural coffins)

  1. An oblong closed box in which a dead person is buried.
  2. (obsolete) A basket.
    • Wycliffe's Bible
      And all ate, and were filled. And they took the reliefs of broken gobbets, twelve coffins full (Matthew 14:20).
  3. (archaic) A casing or crust, or a mold, of pastry, as for a pie.
    • Shakespeare
      Of the paste a coffin I will rear.
    • 1596, The Good Huswife's Jewell
      Take your mallard and put him into the iuyce of the sayde Onyons, and season him with pepper, and salte, cloues and mace, then put your Mallard into the coffin with the saide iuyce of the onyons.
  4. (obsolete) A conical paper bag, used by grocers.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Nares to this entry?)
  5. The hollow crust or hoof of a horse's foot, below the coronet, in which is the coffin bone.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for coffin in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Usage notes[edit]

The type of coffin with upholstery and a half-open lid (mostly in the United States) is called a casket.


Derived terms[edit]



coffin (third-person singular simple present coffins, present participle coffining, simple past and past participle coffined)

  1. (transitive) To place in a coffin.
    • 1941, Emily Carr, chapter 19, in Klee Wyck[1]:
      Indians do not hinder the progress of their dead by embalming or tight coffining.
    • 2007, Barbara Everett, "Making and Breaking in Shakespeare's Romances," London Review of Books, 29:6, page 21:
      The chest in which she is coffined washes ashore and is brought to the Lord Cerimon.