Coffin - Etymology

Etymology

First attested in English 1380, the word coffin derives from the Old French cofin, from Latin cophinus, which is the latinisation of the Greek κόφινος (kophinos), "basket". The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek ko-pi-na, written in Linear B syllabic script. Any box used to bury the dead in is a coffin. Use of the word "casket" in this sense began as a euphemism introduced by the undertaker's trade in North America; a "casket" was originally a box for jewelry. North Americans may draw a distinction between "coffins" and "caskets", using coffin to refer to a tapered hexagonal or octagonal (also considered to be anthropoidal in shape) box used for a burial and casket to refer to a rectangular burial box with a split lid used for viewing the deceased as seen in the picture above. Receptacles for cremated and cremulated human ashes (sometimes called cremains in North America) are called urns.

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