container for transport, laying out and the burial of a corpse

A coffin (also known as a casket) is a box used to store dead bodies, either for burial or after cremation. Coffins used after cremation are what is known as an urn, where the ashes of the person are stored.

Undertakers dancing with casket
A coffin
The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner (Edwin Landseer, 1837)

The word comes ultimately from Greek kophinos, a basket. In English, the word was not used in a funeral sense until the 1500s.

Any box used to bury the dead in is a coffin.

The main distinction between a coffin and a casket is the shape. A casket regularly has 6 – 8 sides while coffins have a rectangular shape.

Material and design


Many coffins are made out of materials such as wood, steel (which would have been used in Ancient Egyptian sarcophaguses), and many others. These types of coffins, for example wooden ones can have a rectangular or any other design, whereas a steel or any other metal used in making coffins (or sarcophaguses) could have the exact same but include religious marking added to make it look more appealing.

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