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 coif

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]

noun, verb (used with object)

Also coiffe.

Origin of coif

probably back formation from coiffure, or < French coiffer, its base Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for coif

Historical Examples of coif

  • 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.

  • 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

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 (def. 1)

verb coifs, coiffing or coiffed (tr)

to cover with or as if with a coif
(kwɑːf) to arrange (the hair)

Word Origin for coif

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

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