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Die Gartenlaube (1871) b 129.jpg
Egyptian camel transport3.jpg

Alternative forms[edit]


From Arabic قَافِلَة(qāfila, caravan). Doublet of cafila.



coffle (plural coffles)

  1. A line of people or animals fastened together, especially a chain of prisoners or slaves.
    • 1816, Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa:
      The people of the coffle spent the day in drying such articles as were wet, and in cleaning ten pairs of ornamented pistols with shea-butter.
    • 1892, Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”, in Leaves of Grass [], Philadelphia, Pa.: David McKay, publisher, [], OCLC 1514723:
      I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle, as the slaves march on, as the husky gangs pass on by twos and threes, fastened together with wrist-chains and ankle-chains,
    • 1982, TC Boyle, Water Music, Penguin 2006, p. 173:
      If the explorer could make Kamalia he might be able to hook up with a slave coffle heading for the coast.
    • 1997 [1990], David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”, in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, →ISBN:
      Once all experience is finally reduced to marketable image, once the receiving user of user-friendly receivers can break from the coffle and choose freely, Americanly, from an Americanly infinite variety of moving images hardly distinguishable from real-life images []
    • 2000, George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords, Bantam 2011, p. 323:
      Her litter came to a sudden halt at the cross street, to allow a coffle of slaves to shuffle across her path, urged along by the crack of an overseer's lash.
    • 2011 February 18, Susan Eva O'Donovan, “William Webb's World”, in New York Times[1]:
      It dominated late-night dinner conversation; it traveled along with marching columns of chained slaves, the infamous coffle lines that remain the iconic face of the domestic slave trade.



coffle (third-person singular simple present coffles, present participle coffling, simple past and past participle coffled)

  1. (transitive) To fasten (a line of people or animals) together.