cof·​fer | \ ˈkȯ-fər How to pronounce coffer (audio) , ˈkä-\

Definition of coffer

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : chest Among the items at the auction was an 18th-century oak coffer. especially : strongbox put the money in the coffer
2 : treasury, funds usually used in plural … public coffers running dry in a bleak economy …— Vivienne Walt and Roya Wolversoncorporate coffers
3 : a recessed panel in a vault, ceiling, or soffit ceiling coffers


coffered; coffering; coffers

Definition of coffer (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to store or hoard up in a coffer coffered his military memorabilia
2 : to form (something, such as a ceiling) with recessed panels A ceiling that is coffered will bring an added dimension to a large room.

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Synonyms for coffer

Synonyms: Noun

safe, safe-deposit box, strongbox

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Examples of coffer in a Sentence


kept the jewels in a locked coffer let me see what's in the household coffers and I'll get back to you about making a donation

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Of that amount, $343,000 comes from a federal grant, while the rest comes from city coffers. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "This city has a vision for mass transit that doesn’t involve city buses," 31 Aug. 2018 The bad loan In 2008, Crapo's then-campaign manager, Jake Ball, loaned $250,000 from campaign coffers to a longtime friend, Gavin McCaleb. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "$192,000 for his wife. 81 uses of a lobbyist's home. Crapo election funds draw scrutiny," 20 June 2018 Typically less than 10 percent of K-12 spending comes from federal coffers, as state and local revenues make up the lion’s share. Emily Richmond, The Atlantic, "Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?," 13 Feb. 2018 But there’s a catch for state and local officials: the bulk of the funding would have to come from their own coffers, either by borrowing, taxing, tolling, or cutting budgets. Kevin Diaz, San Antonio Express-News, "Trump public works plan relies heavily on state money," 12 Feb. 2018 Half of the revenues from the 8 percent go into state coffers, with the other half split between counties and cities based on population sizes. John Sharp,, "Alabama cities and counties square off in Montgomery over online sales tax," 18 Jan. 2018 The crackdown has repelled some foreign investors from the kingdomand yielded only a fraction of the $100 billion that Saudi officials first indicated the process would deliver to the government coffers. Justin Scheck, WSJ, "Saudis Release Consultant, Billionaire Imprisoned in Crackdown," 23 Jan. 2019 The Italian financial daily il Sole 24 Ore reported that the deposits made by the 14 countries into the French Treasury had marginal impact on French coffers, totalling 10 billion euros — or just 0.5 percent of the French public debt. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Italy’s Salvini lashes out at Macron as ‘terrible president’," 22 Jan. 2019 Maybe if more leave, and those pews (and coffers) are finally empty, then the Church will do a more sincere self-examination. Mary Beth Keane, Vogue, "Amid Scandal After Scandal, One Catholic Mother Faces A Painful Choice," 6 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As a bonus, the clubhouse — with its French doors, white coffered ceiling and charming veranda — might be the finest of any public course in the country. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Top 10 metro Detroit public golf courses for 2018," 6 July 2018 The red oak flooring found throughout the main level complements the wood paneling that is used on the walls and coffered ceiling. James Alexander,, "Property of the Week: 20 Barnes Hill Road, Burlington," 11 Jan. 2018 The office’s coffered ceiling and wainscoting are made of cherry, a warm complement to the hardwood floor. Joan Walden,, "Property of the Week: 3 Erica Lane, West Simsbury," 20 July 2017 Don’t miss the Q restaurant and bar, with its coffered ceiling, gold and purple accents and portraits of Queen Victoria. New York Times, "36 Hours in Victoria, British Columbia," 12 Apr. 2018 Nef’s birthday look glimmered similarly–a stunning floor-length gold Gucci gown (with a matching tiara, of course) looked right at home underneath the Campbell’s ornate Florentine coffered ceiling. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Uptown Glamour Meets Downtown Cool at Hari Nef’s Opulent Grand Central 25th Birthday Bash," 24 Oct. 2017 The chandelier still hangs in the center of the auditorium's coffered ceiling. Carol Motsinger,, "These 7,000 crystals sparkle in a new way above a renovated Music Hall," 29 Sep. 2017 Sold by its heirs in the early 1980s, Adare Manor reopened in 1988 as a country house hotel with the kind of architectural frippery in sculptural embellishments and coffered ceilings that make an audience of guests. Elaine Glusac, New York Times, "In Europe and Canada, New Looks for Classic Hotels," 13 Sep. 2017 The biggest thing on her mind was the extra $200 million that was expected to pour into the county coffers a year from junkies like me. Dahleen Glanton,, "Soda tax halt in Cook County is halting habit changes," 10 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coffer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coffer


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for coffer


Middle English cofre, coffre, borrowed from Anglo-French, altered (with n to r) from Latin cophinus "large basket, hamper" (sense "chest" attested in early Medieval Latin), borrowed from Greek kóphinos "large basket" — more at coffin entry 1


Middle English cofren, derivative of cofre coffer entry 1

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Statistics for coffer

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for coffer

The first known use of coffer was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for coffer



English Language Learners Definition of coffer

: a box for holding money or other valuable things
: money that is available for spending


cof·​fer | \ ˈkȯ-fər How to pronounce coffer (audio) \

Kids Definition of coffer

: a box used especially for holding money and valuables

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More from Merriam-Webster on coffer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coffer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for coffer

Spanish Central: Translation of coffer

Nglish: Translation of coffer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coffer for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about coffer

Comments on coffer

What made you want to look up coffer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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