Thursday, October 19, 2006
Unbeknownst to me until earlier today, a lexicology debate exists between the terms "coffin" and "casket."
According to my trusty Webster's Dictionary, a coffin is a "box or chest for burying a corpse" and a casket is "a fancy coffin." Accordingly, I typically use the term "coffin" as a general reference; in other words, all caskets are coffins but not all coffins are caskets (the coffin might not be "fancy" enough to qualify as a casket).
Answers.com defines them as synonymously.
Today, I received a message from J.C. Kirby & Son Funeral Chapels & Crematory (Bowling Green, Kentucky) chiding me for using the terms in this manner. It appears that in the funeral industry, the terms have significantly different meanings:
Coffins are wide to accommodate the shoulders, while small at the foot end.Modern day caskets aren't anywhere near the shape of a coffin.