[ kwahf, koif ]
See synonyms for coif on
noun, verb (used with object)

Origin of coif

Probably a back formation from coiffure, or from French coiffer, its base
  • Also coiffe [kwahf] /kwɑf/ .

Other definitions for coif (2 of 2)

[ koif ]

  1. a hood-shaped cap, usually of white cloth and with extended sides, worn beneath a veil, as by nuns.

  2. any of various hoodlike caps, varying through the centuries in shape and purpose, worn by men and women.

  1. a cap similar to a skullcap, formerly worn by sergeants at law.

  2. Armor. a covering for the head and neck, made of leather, padded cloth, or mail.

  3. British. the rank or position of a sergeant at law.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cover or dress with or as with a coif.

Origin of coif

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English coyf(e), from Anglo-French coife, Old French coiffe, from Late Latin cofia, cofea “headdress, sort of cap,” from unattested West Germanic kuf(f)ja
  • Also coiffe [koif] /kɔɪf/ . Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use coif in a sentence

  • The old bankers, with their perfect coifs and slim-cut suits, are out; the new banker, with his bad hair and baggy jeans, is in.

    Mark Zuckerberg: Fashion Icon | Rebecca Dana | September 29, 2010 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • The big Marachins seized their partners and sprang them so high that their muslin coifs touched the ceiling.

    Autumn Glory | Ren Bazin
  • In their gala dresses they knelt on the muddy bank, their coifs and aprons blown about in the wind.

    Autumn Glory | Ren Bazin
  • Nuns with whitewashed faces, cool coifs and their rosaries going up and down, vindictive too for what they can't get.

    Ulysses | James Joyce
  • We afterwards remarked numbers of women, equally devoid of coifs and cleanliness.

  • The little chapel on the cliffs was stuffed with kneeling women in their stiff, starched coifs and heavy velvet-trimmed skirts.

    One Woman's Life | Robert Herrick

British Dictionary definitions for coif


/ (kɔɪf) /

  1. a close-fitting cap worn under a veil, worn in the Middle Ages by many women but now only by nuns

  2. any similar cap, such as a leather cap worn under a chain-mail hood

  1. (formerly in England) the white cap worn by a serjeant at law

  2. a base for the elaborate women's headdresses of the 16th century

  3. (kwɑːf) a less common word for coiffure (def. 1)

verbcoifs, coiffing or coiffed (tr)
  1. to cover with or as if with a coif

  2. (kwɑːf) to arrange (the hair)

Origin of 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