Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A coiffure.
  • n. A tight-fitting cap worn under a veil, as by nuns.
  • n. A white skullcap formerly worn by English lawyers.
  • n. A heavy skullcap of steel or leather, formerly worn under a helmet or mail hood.
  • transitive v. To arrange or dress (the hair).
  • transitive v. To cover with or as if with a coif.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hairdo
  • n. A hood; a close-fitting cap covering much of the head, widespread until XVIII century; after that worn only by small children and countrywomen
  • n. A chain mail head gear
  • v. To style or arrange hair.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cap.
  • n. A close-fitting cap covering the sides of the head, like a small hood without a cape.
  • n. An official headdress, such as that worn by certain judges in England.
  • n. a coiffure.
  • transitive v. To cover or dress with, or as with, a coif.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cover or dress with or as with a coif.
  • n. A cap fitting close to the head, and conforming to its shape.
  • n. A cap like the calotte or skull-cap, usually of lawn, retained until the common introduction of the wig, especially as the head-dress of barristers.
  • n. A skull-cap of leather or of stuff, apparently wadded, made of many thicknesses, or provided with a thickened rim or edge (see bourrelet), worn under the camail to prevent the links of the chain-mail from wounding the head when struck, or to prevent the heavy steel headpiece from pressing too heavily upon the head.
  • n. Figuratively, the calling or rank of a barrister: as, a brother of the coif.
  • n. In armor: A cap of chain-mail or of bezanted or scale armor, usually distinct from the camail, and worn over it as an additional defense, or to cover the top of the head when the camail reached only about to the ears. Also called coif of mail, cap of mail, mail coif, and coiffe-de-mailles.
  • n. The camail itself.
  • n. A skull-cap of steel, worn over the camail, or perhaps in some cases worn under the camail, or mail coif. Also called coif of plate, coiffe-de-fer, cervelière, and secret.
  • n. A light cap of lace, worn by women at the present day.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a skullcap worn by nuns under a veil or by soldiers under a hood of mail or formerly by British sergeants-at-law
  • v. arrange attractively
  • n. the arrangement of the hair (especially a woman's hair)
  • v. cover with a coif

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French coife, from Late Latin cofea, helmet, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French coiffer (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Dotson’s coif is pretty expansive, and the comedian can’t resist throwing in a continual, left-hand finger flutter – over-the-top, yes, but it seems to manifest the metaphysical Lynchian truth.

    Current Movie Reviews, Independent Movies - Film Threat

  • Wonderbaby’s meagre coif is entirely pixie, except for the long flip of fringe that has been dangling over her eyes for some weeks now.

    Beware Bad Mothers Bearing Scissors | Her Bad Mother

  • A lady wore a close-fitting white linen cap, called a coif, to cover her hair.

    History of American Women

  • The coif was a covering for the head, made of white lawn or silk, and common law judges wore it as a sign that they were members of the learned brotherhood of sergeants.

    A Book About Lawyers

  • She was dressed in a black velvet gown, precisely like that of the queen in the well-known portrait which belongs to the king; on her head was the pointed velvet coif, which is characteristic of her; and she had the wan complexion, and the features we all know well.

    Catherine De Medici

  • The coif was a ubiquitous white skullcap worn throughout the Middle Ages.

    All Categories Featured Content - Associated Content

  • Bill was already in the bathroom, staking his territory by laying out the contents of his Dopp Kit on the sink and checking his "coif" that's what he always called his curly Portuguese locks...his "coif", so I opened the door.

    Hullabaloo

  • Amid the large and befeathered hats of the day, for instance, she alone wore habitually a kind of coif made of thin black lace on her fair face, the lappets of which were fastened with a diamond close beneath her chin.

    The Coryston Family A Novel

  • One of our dolls has a very fancy "coif" that I haven't seen before that consists of many tight individual curls.

    Antique News News!

  • Hairspray-attracted every imaginable kind of coif, all getting a little higher and harder as the raves poured in.

    Village Voice - The most recent 10 stories

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "And then he drew his sword, and dressed him unto Sir Percivale, and smote him so on the helm, that it rove to the coif of steel; and had not the sword swerved Sir Percivale had been slain, and with the stroke he fell out of his saddle."
    - Thomas Malory, 'The Holy Grail'.

    September 8, 2009

  • When people share an "if".

    October 11, 2008

  • quaff

    (remember, in my neck of the woods, "wrath" is pronounced like a kind of individual retirement account; "quaff" gets similar treatment)

    August 15, 2008

  • See if you can come up with a rhyming word for coif.

    August 15, 2008