early 14c., "chest or box for valuables," from Old French cofin "sarcophagus," earlier "basket, coffer" (12c., Modern French coffin), from Latin cophinus "basket, hamper" (source of Italian cafano, Spanish cuebano "basket"), from Greek kophinos "a basket," which is of uncertain origin.
Funeral sense in English is 1520s; before that it was the literal Latin one and had also a meaning of "pie crust" (late 14c.). Meaning "vehicle regarded as unsafe" is from 1830s. Coffin nail "cigarette" is slang from 1880; nail in (one's) coffin "thing that contributes to one's death" is from 1792.
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