Coffin vs Casket

By Casket Emporium March 20,2021

Because the words casket and coffin are often used to refer to a burial box for humans, the two are often used interchangeably. Truth is, the two are not the same thing, and there are distinct differences. Knowing the differences between a casket and a coffin will help you choose which one suits you or your loved one best.

Are caskets and coffins the same thing? What are the differences?

A coffin is a box used for transporting a deceased person. It is also called a pall. The word coffin came from both ancient Greek (cofin) and Latin (cophinus). In French, the word “cofin” used to mean basket. It now means cradle.

The Ancient Egyptians and the Celts were the first to use coffins. They made the boxes out of stone and wood. The Egyptians used decorated wooden containers and stone sarcophagi as early as 3150 BCE. The Celts used burial boxes made out of flat stones around 700 BCE.


During the civil war from 1861 – 1865, transporting and burying the dead were done with the use of coffins. The bloody civil war resulted to the death of thousands upon thousands of people. This led to a massive increase in demand for coffins. Mass production of coffins was thus born.

The war also paved the way for the booming casket industry in the 19th century. Because of its intricate design, it is more difficult to make caskets. But, because of the high demand for coffins, the supply is sometimes not enough. Thus, people began using caskets as well.

Today, both caskets and coffins are made from wood, stainless steel, or fiberglass. The most popular ones are wood caskets. Steel is by far the most popular, as well as willow, pine, poplar, birch, and oak. Those who can afford the expensive cost opt for black walnut or cherry, and mahogany.

Coffin vs. casket: main differences

The main difference between a coffin and a casket is the shape. Coffins are characterized by their shoulder width heads, removable lids, and tapered or narrowed tails.  A coffin typically has 6 – 8 sides, and actually resembles the shape of a human body. On the other hand, caskets have a rectangular shape. They are equipped with a hinged lid.


Both a casket and coffin has handles on each side. This will make handling the box easier and more manageable, especially if a deceased person is inside.

Another major difference between the two boxes is the kind of materials used to make them. In general, a casket is more difficult to craft. This is because caskets often have plush padding and intricate detailing. On the other hand, coffins often have minimal detailing. They typically use only plain fabric lining.

The degree of detailing, craftsmanship, and materials needed for coffins and caskets resulted to another difference: the price. Because a coffin typically uses less craftsmanship and materials, it is often more affordable than a casket, with all of its intricate details.

Summary of differences between coffin and casket

  • A coffin has an octagonal or hexagonal shape designed to accommodate the shape of a human body; a casket has a rectangular shape
  • A casket has a split-lid on top for viewing; a coffin doesn’t have such opening.
  • A casket is cheaper because it uses less wood compared to a coffin. Visit this page to find and buy inexpensive caskets from
  • The word casket may also mean boxes for jewelry, documents and other valuables. Coffin is always associated with mortal remains.
  • A coffin has a metal lining inside, as well as metal handles on the exterior for the pallbearers.
  • A coffin’s foot has a taper; a casket is purely rectangular.

Why people prefer using the word casket instead of coffin

People tend to use the term casket more than coffin to refer to boxes for deceased people. This is because throughout history, casket has been used to refer to an ornamental box. Unlike coffin, casket doesn’t come with a negative connotation.

For people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, hearing casket instead of coffin can be more comforting. Also a casket doesn’t have the shape of a human body. Thus, seeing a casket being lowered to the ground somehow makes your feel you’re interring someone beautiful, instead of just a dead person. It helps that a casket often comes with an intricate design and fine details.

In addition, caskets feel more unique. After all, there’s a lot of different choices, colors, and designs available. It makes things easier to choose the one that will best remind you of your departed loved one.

Final words

Whether you prefer a casket or a coffin, it is an important part of a funeral. It helps keep a departed loved one’s mortal remains.

In most English speaking nations outside the US, a casket may take on a lot of other meanings such as a multi-purpose box. On the other hand, a coffin only has one meaning, which is a box used to carry the remains of a deceased person.

Although coffins were primarily used in funerals in the US in the past, the casket has become more popular for containing a dead persons remains today.