AskDefine | Define coffer

Dictionary Definition



1 an ornamental sunken panel in a ceiling or dome [syn: caisson, lacuna]
2 a chest especially for storing valuables

User Contributed Dictionary



From Old (and modern) French coffre, from Latin cophinus, from Greek κόφινος ‘basket’.



  1. a strongbox: a strong chest or box used for keeping money or valuables safe.
  2. an ornamental sunken panel in a ceiling or dome.
  3. a cofferdam
  4. a supply or store of money, often belonging to an organization


  1. to put money or valuables in a coffer
  2. to decorate something, especially a ceiling, with coffers

Extensive Definition

A coffer (or coffering) in architecture, is a sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling, soffit or vault. A series of these sunken panels were used as decoration for a ceiling or a vault, also called caissons, or lacunaria, while a coffered ceiling was sometime called a lacunar. The stone coffers of the ancient Greeks and Romans are the earliest surviving examples. Wooden coffers were first made by the crossing the wooden beams of a ceiling in the Loire Valley châteaus of the early Renaissance.
Experimentation with the possible shapes of coffering, which solve problems of mathematical tiling, or tessellation, were a feature of Renaissance architecture. The more complicated problems of diminishing the scale of the individual coffers were presented by the requirements of curved surfaces of vaults and domes.
A prominent example of Roman coffering, employed to lighten the weight of the dome, can be found in the ceiling of the rotunda dome in the Pantheon, Rome.

See also


External links

coffer in Czech: Kazeta (architektura)
coffer in German: Kassettendecke
coffer in Spanish: Artesonado
coffer in Esperanto: Kasona plafono
coffer in Italian: Cassettone
coffer in Polish: Kaseton
coffer in Russian: Кессоны
coffer in Finnish: Kasetti (arkkitehtuuri)
coffer in Swedish: Kassettak

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Fort Knox, bank, bundle away, bursary, cache, cash register, cashbox, chest, coin box, deposit, depository, exchequer, file, fisc, gold depository, hutch, lay away, lay down, lay in, lay in store, locker, lodge, money chest, pack away, penny bank, piggy bank, pork barrel, public crib, public till, public treasury, public trough, put away, reposit, repository, reservoir, safe, safe-deposit box, salt away, salt down, stash, store, store away, storehouse, stow, stow away, stow down, strong room, strongbox, subtreasury, till, treasure-house, treasury, vault, warehouse
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