/kaw"fin, kof"in/, n.
1. Levi, 1798-1877, U.S. abolitionist leader.
2. Robert P(eter) Tristram, 1892-1955, U.S. poet, essayist, and biographer.

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      the receptacle in which a corpse is confined. The Greeks and Romans disposed of their dead both by burial and by cremation. Greek coffins were urn-shaped, hexagonal, or triangular, with the body arranged in a sitting posture. The material used was generally burnt clay and in some cases had obviously been molded around the body and baked. In the Christian era stone coffins came into use. Romans who were rich enough had their coffins made of a limestone brought from Assus, in Asia Minor, which was commonly believed to “eat” the body.

      Chaldean coffins were generally clay urns with the top left open; from the size of the mouth it is apparent that these coffins were molded and baked around the body. The Egyptian coffins, or sarcophagi (sarcophagus), were the largest stone coffins known and were generally highly polished and covered with hieroglyphics that usually told a history of the deceased. Mummy chests shaped to the form of the body were also used, being made of hardwood or painted papier-mâché; these also bore hieroglyphics.

      Primitive wooden coffins, formed of a tree trunk split down the centre and hollowed out, are still in use among some aboriginal peoples. This type of coffin, modified by planing, was used in medieval Europe by those who could not afford stone, while the poor were buried without coffins, wrapped simply in cloth or covered with hay and flowers. Lead coffins were also used in Europe during the Middle Ages; these were shaped like the mummy chests of Egypt. Iron coffins were used in England and Scotland as late as the 17th century, when coffins became usual for all classes, including the poor.

      Among the American Indians (American Indian) some tribes used roughhewn wooden coffins; others sometimes enclosed the corpse between the upper and lower shells of a turtle. In their tree and scaffold burial the Indians sometimes used wooden coffins or travois baskets or simply wrapped the body in blankets. Canoes, mounted on a scaffold near a river, were used as coffins by some tribes, while others placed the corpse in a canoe or wicker basket and floated it out into the stream or lake. The Aborigines of Australia generally used coffins of bark, but some tribes employed baskets of wickerwork.

      In the United States glass is sometimes used for the lids, and the inside is lined with copper or zinc. Coffins used in cremation throughout the civilized world are of some light material easily consumed and yielding little ash.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Coffin — Cof fin (?; 115), n. [OE., a basket, receptacle, OF. cofin, fr. L. cophinus. See {Coffer}, n.] 1. The case in which a dead human body is inclosed for burial. [1913 Webster] They embalmed him [Joseph], and he was put in a coffin. Gen. 1. 26. [1913 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coffin — (n.) early 14c., chest or box for valuables, from O.Fr. cofin sarcophagus, earlier basket, coffer (12c., Mod.Fr. coffin), from L. cophinus basket, hamper (Cf. It. cafano, Sp. cuebano basket ), from Gk. kophinos a basket, of uncertain origin.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Coffin — Cof fin, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Coffined}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Coffining}.] To inclose in, or as in, a coffin. [1913 Webster] Would st thou have laughed, had I come coffined home? Shak. [1913 Webster] Devotion is not coffined in a cell. John Hall… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coffin — ● coffin nom masculin (baslatin cophinus, du grec kophinos, corbeille) Étui contenant de l eau, dans lequel le faucheur met la pierre à aiguiser. coffin [kɔfɛ̃] n. m. ÉTYM. XIIIe; du bas lat. cophinus, grec kophinos « panier ». → Couffin. ❖ ♦… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • coffin — ► NOUN ▪ a long, narrow box in which a dead body is buried or cremated. ► VERB (coffined, coffining) ▪ place in a coffin. ORIGIN Old French cofin little basket , from Greek kophinus basket …   English terms dictionary

  • coffin — [kôf′in, käf′in] n. [ME & OFr cofin, basket, coffer < L cophinus < Gr kophinos, a basket] 1. the case or box in which a dead body is buried 2. the horny part of a horse s hoof vt. to put into or as if into a coffin …   English World dictionary

  • Coffin [1] — Coffin (spr. Koffeng), 1) Cap an der Nordostküste der Sundainsel Celebes; 2) Eiland an der Westküste von Madagascar, merkwürdig, weil um dasselbe die Meerestiefe zwischen 7 bis 160 Faden wechselt …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Coffin [2] — Coffin (spr. Koffeng), Charles, geb. 1676 in Buzanci, st. 1749 als Rector der Hochschule in Paris; dichtete u.a. mehrere Hymnen für das Brevier von Paris u. die berühmte Ode auf den Champagner; Oeuvres, Par. 1755, 2 Bde …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Coffin — Nom surtout porté dans la Somme, également présent dans le Cher. Désigne par métonymie le fabricant ou le marchand de coffins, corbeilles ou paniers d osier (bas latin cophinum, emprunté au grec). Le métier est également présent sous la forme… …   Noms de famille

  • coffin — see casket …   Modern English usage

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