1. a strongly made box or safe designed to store valuables
Study rather to fill your mind than your coffers; knowing that gold and silver were originally mingled with dirt, until avarice or ambition parted them.
Seneca the Younger, 4 BC – 65
2. funds; a supply of money; a treasury
Once the coffers of the federal government are opened to the public, there will be no shutting them again.
Grover Cleveland, 1837 – 1908
3. a decorative sunken panel found in a dome, ceiling, etc.
The coffers on the ceiling are square, but because they follow the arch of the dome, they appear rectangular except when viewed from the center of the floor directly under the oculus.
“The Pantheon”, www.quizlet.com/352004103/themes-final-flash-cards/?src=set_page_csr, accessed October 26, 2021
1. to place in a strongbox or safe
The young tradesman, immured in his shop or counting room, weaves golden dreams, and toils for years to realize them; and when at last he has gilded his humble name, and coffered his sordid idols – then cometh the devil!
From “Life of Elder John Smith: with Some Account of the Rise and Progress of the Current Reformation“ by John Augustus Williams, 1824 – 1903
2. in architecture, to decorate a ceiling, dome, soffit, etc. with sunken panels
The dining room was paneled in walnut, the music gallery’s walls were picked out with plasterwork, and the library’s ceiling was coffered with 1,000 squares, each imprinted with a different rose.
Amanda Vail, “Old World and New”, ‘Architectural Digest’, November 30, 2007
Ultimately from the Greek masculine noun Kophinos, kophinou (basket) via its Latin transliteration, cophinus, cophini of the same meaning and its Old French derivative, cofre, coffre (chest, trunk, safe).
Thank you to Allen Ward for providing the etymology of coffer.