General English


  • noun a cricketer’s holdall for clothing and equipment
    Citation ‘Colchester is one of these places where you change by rota, the rooms being too tiny to tolerate 11 cricketers and their “coffins”’ (Peter Roebuck, Cricketer November 1982)

Media Studies


  • noun a box in which a dead body is buried or cremated

Origin & History of “coffin”

Greek kóphinus meant ‘basket’. It passed via Latin cophinus into Old French, where it split into two words. Cofin came to mean ‘box, chest’ as well as ‘basket’, and it was with these senses that it was borrowed into English. The specific application to boxes for burial is not recorded before the early 16th century. The other Old French descendant of Latin cophinus was coffre, which gave English coffer (13th c.).