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[koif] /kɔɪf/
a hood-shaped cap, usually of white cloth and with extended sides, worn beneath a veil, as by nuns.
any of various hoodlike caps, varying through the centuries in shape and purpose, worn by men and women.
a cap similar to a skullcap, formerly worn by sergeants at law.
Armor. a covering for the head and neck, made of leather, padded cloth, or mail.
British. the rank or position of a sergeant at law.
verb (used with object)
to cover or dress with or as with a coif.
Origin of coif1
1250-1300; Middle English coyf(e) < Anglo-French coife, Old French coiffe < Late Latin cofia, cofea headdress, sort of cap < West Germanic *kuf(f)ja


[kwahf, koif] /kwɑf, kɔɪf/
noun, verb (used with object)
coiffure (defs 1, 3).
Also, coiffe.
probably back formation from coiffure, or < French coiffer, its base Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for coif
Historical Examples
  • She wore a coif and a lace frilling in the fashion of the Regency.

    The Gods are Athirst Anatole France
  • The Sussex name Quaile represents the Norman pronunciation of coif.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley
  • Her hair had fallen loose in her coif, it depended on to her shoulder.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned

    Ford Madox Ford
  • Mother sent me to buy her a coif, and I got this for the money too.

    All's Well Emily Sarah Holt
  • They thought you were very old, and must be going to coif Saint Catherine.

    More about Pixie Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • The coif recalls those seen in the pictures of the ancient Gauls.

    Rambles in Brittany Francis Miltoun
  • The coif can treat better with the cowl than the casque can do.

    Anne of Geierstein Walter Scott
  • The crest is defended by a coif like that used for combat on foot.

    Spanish Arms and Armour Albert F. Calvert
  • Next morning at breakfast her mother saw the coif and stared at her.

    Historic Girlhoods Rupert S. Holland
  • He recommends Morrison, his valet, as a good man to shave and coif his father.

    Pickle the Spy Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for coif


a close-fitting cap worn under a veil, worn in the Middle Ages by many women but now only by nuns
any similar cap, such as a leather cap worn under a chain-mail hood
(formerly in England) the white cap worn by a serjeant at law
a base for the elaborate women's headdresses of the 16th century
(kwɑːf) a less common word for coiffure (sense 1)
verb (transitive) coifs, coiffing, coiffed
to cover with or as if with a coif
(kwɑːf). to arrange (the hair)
Word Origin
C14: from Old French coiffe, from Late Latin cofea helmet, cap, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for coif

See queif's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for coif

late 13c., "close-fitting cap," from Old French coife "skull-cap, cap worn under a helmet, headgear" (12c., Modern French coiffe), from Late Latin coifa "a cap, hood" (source of Italian cuffia, Spanish cofia, escofia), of West Germanic origin (cf. Old High German kupphia, Middle High German kupfe "cap").


mid-15c., "to cover with a cap," from Middle French coiffer, from Old French coife (see coif (n.)); sense of "to arrange the hair" is attested in English from 1835. Related: Coifed; coifing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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