Before The Term Coffin Came To Be Synonymous With Burial Casket, It Referred To?
Answer: Pastry Dishes
In what might be one of the more morbid lingual curiosities we’ve covered in the trivia column, we have the case of how a term used to denote filling and savory meat pies came to be used almost exclusively as a funerary term.
There is a long history of baking meat pies dating well back into the Neolithic period that extends into the present. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and later Medieval Europeans were heavy consumers of thick-crusted and meat-filled pies. It was there in the medieval era that the pies became known as coffins, a term then used to denote a basket or box. The name was fitting as at the time they were frequently baked in roughly square shapes with thick pastry sides intended to withstand many hours of baking and hold the meats and sauces safely inside.
As the term coffin gained popularity as a reference to burial caskets in later centuries, it fell out of use as a culinary term and people no longer baked meat coffins but meat pies.
Image courtesy of Jazz Guy.