Discussion in 'English Only' started by GnIvER.84, Jul 27, 2007.
Hi, I would like to know the difference between casket and coffin.
According to the website listed below and a few others found on google, the difference is mainly in the shape. A coffin is narrow at each end and wide at the place where the shoulders will be; a casket is rectangular.
I just learned this after looking it up in response to your question; I always thought they were the same thing.
As far as I know, the wooden box in which you get buried or cremated is called a coffin over here and a casket in America. Casket can refer to other kinds of box too. http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/object.asp?searchText=War&object=9278&row=16
No, we use "coffin" over here, too.
It seems to me Americans prefer the word "casket". Lady Bird passed way recently, I only saw the word "casket" being used on TV and papers.
Coffin vs. casket [Read More]
I have to say that I don't agree with that distinction, river. I think it is artificial. Some may make it but it isn't intrinsic in the meaning of the word, and I can't find a dictionary that supports this difference.
In the UK "casket" is not used, except possibly by imitation, but I have never heard it.
Interestingly, the derivation of coffin is a word meaning "basket". A casket, a basket, a green and yellow, er, coffin.
Here is a great quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne, from 1863:
"Caskets! a vile modern phrase, which compels a person ... to shrink ... from the idea of being buried at all."
Undocumented observation from the eastern US- Coffin is a little more formal and nicer sounding. Casket is more used here, and a little more down-to-earth, all puns intended. Without erudite undertakings or undertaker web sources, I would have called them synonymous.
Chick Webb and Ella F send regards to the singing MM. He's lost it, he's lost it,
that little yellow basket....
It's probably another entirely artificial distinction, but I thought caskets were those small coffins for children.
But when I look for the normal terminology here, it seems to support the theory that people-shapes boxes are coffins, the others are called caskets. The site I found has only caskets for children.
(It's "A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket ...")
"Casket" is a prissy 19th C. American euphemism for "coffin". It is part of the general puffery that one finds in the industry of burying the dead -- such as "undertakers" over time becoming "morticians", and then "funeral directors". In my experience, the more something containing a dead body resembles an honest wooden box, the more likely it is to be called a coffin. Meanhwile, something which looks as likely to be driven away under its own power as it is to be buried in hole, is probably gong to be called a "casket" by its manfacturer.
I see this maker of fine enclosures for the deposition of mortal remains seems to hold the distinction between a coffin and a casket that river gave us; I guess it is an industry term, and GWB has accurately described their predilections. It's interesting to note that "undertaker" itself is a euphemism; it seems that, as far as delicate subjects are concerned, euphemisms need euphemisms to bite 'em, and so on, ad infinitum.
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