cof·fer | \ˈkȯ-fər, 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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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

The news comes a few weeks after AT&T fully acquired Time Warner for $85 billion, a deal that took a significant sum out of the carrier’s coffers. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "DirecTV Now will raise its prices by $5 later this month," 2 July 2018 The fires and the ensuing damage is draining Israeli coffers. Noga Tarnopolsky,, "At the Israeli-Gaza Strip border, a growing sense of anxiety and fear," 6 May 2018 Economists also worry that Lopez Obrador’s plans will drain the public coffers., "Reeling From Job Cuts, Mexican Oil Country Pins Hopes on a Rebel," 2 May 2018 Any issue not devoted to enriching the NFL’s coffers is little more than a pet issue. Drew Magary, GQ, "NFL Owners Are Hopelessly Damaged Human Beings," 26 Apr. 2018 One of them, David Schnare, has been accused by his former allies of botching the group’s tax-exempt status and of attempting to extort a quarter-million dollars from its coffers. John Schwartz, New York Times, "He Sues to Discredit Climate Scientists. Now He’s Being Sued by His Allies.," 11 July 2018 Lindsey Stirling Friday, July 6, at Starlight Theatre Classical ensembles including the Kansas City Symphony have long used audience-pleasing pops concerts to fill seats and enrich their coffers. Bill Brownlee, kansascity, "KC concerts July 5-11: Warped Tour, Joan Jett, Paramore, Xscape, STS9, Neko Case," 3 July 2018 The move alienated a number of hardcore Telegram watchers, but the company marches on, its coffers now filled to the brim. Jacob Silverman, Longreads, "Private Telegram, Public Strife," 3 July 2018 To refill its coffers, the Crown turned the Royal Navy into a customs force and instructed it to seize ships and confiscate smuggled cargo in order to induce the colonists to pay duty on imports. Peter Andreas, Washington Post, "Breaking border laws is as American as it gets," 3 July 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

20 Oct 2018

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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

coffers : money that is available for spending


cof·fer | \ˈkȯ-fər \

Kids Definition of coffer

: a box used especially for holding money and valuables

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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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