Difference Between Coffin and Casket

Coffin vs Casket

A coffin or a casket is an integral part of a funeral and is used for keeping the mortal remains of a dead man. However, in many English speaking countries other than US, a casket is taken to be a box used for other purposes and quite different from a coffin. Also, while it was primarily a coffin that was used at funerals earlier inside the US, it is casket that is being used for containment of dead bodies nowadays. This article attempts to find out the differences between coffin and casket.


Coffin is a box made of wood that is being used to contain dead bodies since the early part of the 16th century in the western world. The shape of a coffin is typical as it has six sides to allow a dead body to fit easily inside it. The shape is such that it is wider at the top to allow for shoulders to fit in while being narrow at the bottom to contain the feet of the deceased. This shape also allows for saving of wood thus bringing down the construction cost of the container.


Casket is a container that has traditionally been used to keep jewelry and other important documents. It was only around the turn of the 19th century that the word also came to be used for containers holding dead bodies for burial. This was when the word casket almost became synonymous with coffin. However, casket, even when used for burial is quite different in shape as it is a four sided box with a small lid at the top to allow for easy viewing of the face of the deceased. This spilt lid is not seen in a coffin.

The use of the word casket for the container to hold dead bodies seemed less offensive than the word coffin. Also, the shape of the casket was not like that of a dead body which also worked to popularize the word and the shape of the container for the burial purpose.

Coffin vs Casket

• The shape of a coffin is hexagonal or octagonal to simulate the shape of a dead body, whereas casket is rectangular in shape.

• There is a split lid at the top of a casket to allow for viewing of the face of the deceased while there is no such opening in a coffin.

• Casket makes use of less wood and is, therefore, less expensive than a coffin.

• Casket is a word that also refers to boxes used to keep jewelry and other valuables, including documents.

• There is a metal lining on the inside in a coffin and six metal handles on the outside to provide for 6 pallbearers.

• While there is a taper at the head and at the foot of a coffin, casket remains rectangular all over.