casket /coffin

Discussion in 'English Only' started by GnIvER.84, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. GnIvER.84 New Member

    Peru - Castellano
    Hi, I would like to know the difference between casket and coffin.

  2. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    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.
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
  4. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    No, we use "coffin" over here, too.
  5. nasridine Senior Member

    Chinese, China
    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.
  6. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
  7. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    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."
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    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....
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    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 ...")
  10. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    "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.
  11. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    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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