cof·​fle ˈkȯ-fəl How to pronounce coffle (audio)
plural coffles
: a group of prisoners, enslaved people, or animals chained or tied together in a line
The African raiders marched their captives to the coast in long lines known as coffles: dozens of people yoked together by the neck with leather thongs to prevent escape.Alan Taylor
Both women … were shackled at the hands and feet and led into Criminal District Court in a coffle of accused criminals.Jarvis DeBerry
… returned to Massawa, whence he set off with a coffle of camels …Russell Warren Howe

Examples of coffle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jefferson’s great-grandson, William Stuart Bankhead, sent the Scott family and others into the Deep South, far from the places where they and their parents and grandparents had been born, in a coffle in 1846. Andrew M. Davenport, Smithsonian, 14 June 2018 These immigrants followed African slaves brought there in coffles, waves of Chinese workers recruited for cane fields, and Vietnamese refugees who came after the war and became fisher folk on the Gulf. Casey Cep, New Republic, 26 May 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coffle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Arabic qāfila caravan

First Known Use

1799, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of coffle was in 1799


Dictionary Entries Near coffle

Cite this Entry

“Coffle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

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