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What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

3/29/2020 Anant Goel

Many people often confuse the two.

Basically, both are boxes for putting dead bodies in. A coffin is designed to indicate the shape of the human body in some way, while caskets are designed to hide that shape.

What you are looking at below is a coffin...



Its anthropoidal shape vaguely resembles a human shape. It is often referred to, in the Western movies, as a “toe pincher” due to the limited amount of space at the foot end.

This beauty is a casket. It features a continuous rectangular shape that has zero resemblance to a body (in most cases anyway).

Most people that are not in the funeral industry don't know the difference…and don't really need to know the difference. They both serve the same purpose.

The most obvious difference is their appearance: coffins and caskets are shaped differently.

Coffin are generally the type you see in the UK with the tapered section close to the top.  casket is generally the North American version.

However, it North America both terms are used. The term casket became more popular as it does have quite the same dour meaning as ‘coffin’ which means only one thing─ to hold the dead. The term ‘casket’ started being used by funeral directors as a nicer way of basically saying the same thing.


When most people picture a funeral service, they see what’s called a casket. That’s because a casket is used in the majority of funerals in the United States. Therefore, the difference between ‘casket’ and ‘coffin’ is especially important for families who live in the United States.

A casket is a specially-designed box made to contain a deceased person’s body. It’s typically used during a funeral service for viewing the body. Then, if the family has not chosen a cremation burial, the casket containing the body is lowered into the ground during the burial ceremony.


If the family has chosen cremation for their loved one (or they’ve pre-arranged it themselves), the casket is not always buried. Sometimes it may only be utilized for the viewing, visitation, or wake, as well as the funeral service. But sometimes a cremation urn is placed within a casket and the casket is indeed buried.

By now you should have a clear image of what a casket looks like. It’s rectangular and typically features hinged bars on each side for carrying.

But what, then, is a coffin?


A coffin is also a specially designed box that holds a deceased person’s body for a funeral service. Like a casket, it may also be used for the viewing and burial.

But here’s the main difference: coffins have six sides. That might be hard to picture. It may help to think of an old movie you’ve seen, particularly a western. In movies set in the 1800’s, you’re likely to see a coffin, not a casket, if there is a funeral scene.

In coffins, the top part of the box is wider than the bottom.


In Closing…


 [Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research] 
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