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

The government’s coffers are reeling from lack of resources, and the U.N. estimates that eight out 10 people live below poverty line. Sarah El Deeb, The Seattle Times, "Syria’s Assad: Last man standing amid new Arab uprisings," 13 Apr. 2019 Government coffers swelled by a record $314 billion via individual tax payments in April. Saleha Mohsin,, "U.S. Posts Record Monthly Budget Surplus of $214 Billion," 10 May 2018 All that is expected to add up to $2.5 million more for city coffers. Sharon Coolidge,, "Park your car in Cincinnati? It's going to cost you (a lot) more.," 3 July 2018 Judge Alsup shrewdly saw through the gambit by Democratic politicians and plaintiff attorneys to loot big oil companies to pad their coffers. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Climate Shakedown Flops," 29 June 2018 Though city coffers are filling with record-high tax revenues, costs have continued to grow at a breakneck pace. Gordon R. Friedman,, "Mayor Wheeler to propose $15 million Portland business tax hike," 24 Apr. 2018 That growth has conferred enormous wealth on the city’s coffers, but not without substantial costs to the city’s social fabric. Dominic Fracassa, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF mayoral hopefuls walk fine line debating tech’s impact," 16 Apr. 2018 In the race for attorney general, Leonard is padding his campaign coffers with $371,200 raised in the last quarter of 2017, including a transfer of $63,925 from his state House campaign account and $16,000 from his two leadership PACs. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Campaign cash flowing into races for attorney general, secretary of state in Michigan," 31 Jan. 2018 Klein ISD's Board of Trustees will meet Friday for an emergency budget update after voters rejected a property tax hike that could have pumped an additional $28.8 million into the district's coffers. Shelby Webb, Houston Chronicle, "Klein ISD looking for ways to cut millions from budget after tax hike voted down," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Modern chandeliers and coffered ceilings make a case for looking upward. Jack Flemming,, "‘Ridiculousness’ host Steelo Brim goes wild for newly built Cape Cod," 15 June 2018 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

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

19 May 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 mark by some ceremony or observation

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