Difference Between Coif and Quaff

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: June 03, 2023


Difference Between Coif and Quaff

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It is a normal phenomenon to get confused while hearing homophones. "Coif" and "quaff" are also homophones, but they possess very few common characteristics, and both are different derivatives of different languages. Apart from being derived from different languages, they are also different in terms of grammar. The word quaff is a verb, and on the other hand, coif is a noun. Even after the differences, these words are often confused because of the same pronunciation.

As we have figured out, these words are very similar in pronunciation but are poles apart in terms of their meaning, utilization, and application. Even the origins of the words are derived from different languages, and based on that, we can differentiate the words coif and quaff.

These two words are pronounced in the same way, they have a common sound of "kwuh" at the beginning, and they rhyme with "off."

Coif vs. Quaff

The word coif may have more than one meaning. The first means a sort of hairstyle, where it is not any particular type of hairstyle but a term for it, and the second meaning of it may be a type of cap or head covering. It is compact, covering and protecting the top and sides of the head. But quaff is certainly referred to as enthusiastically drinking or heartily drinking, usually referring to an alcoholic drink. This enthusiastic drinking can also be termed "drinking vigorously" or "drinking quickly." So on this basis, we can easily differentiate between coif and quaff. We also don't often use coif and quaff which makes them difficult to understand.

Difference between Coif and quaff in tabular form

Parameters of comparisonCoifQuaff
OriginationThe word coif is regarded as having originated in the 11th century and is related to the French language. the period when the monks were accustomed to wearing it to cover their heads. Also used by judges to distinguish themselves.The closest trace of the term "quaff" comes from Germany, and it can be traced back to the early 1400s. It has a certain meaning of drinking heartily.
Meaning of coif and quaffThe meaning of coif is something that can be headwear, particularly that compact fitting that covers the parts of the neck as well as the shoulders. It is used by both men and women.Quaff is drinking enthusiastically or consuming some beverage in huge quantity quickly and also called "quaffing."
Use of the termsCoif is used to denote something related to a head covering. Something that covers the top of the head and is in the form of a hooded head covering.Quaff is a more poetic term and is used to denote something related to the activity of drinking something quickly.
Noun vs verbIt is a noun. It is because the term "coif" is used to represent a head cover. Which differentiates it from Quaff completely.It is a verb. It is because it is an activity that involves doing something.
Significance of the wordsCoifs were popularly used to distinguish the judges, which is an imperative application to discuss. In the mediaeval period, coifs turned out to be popular headdresses for judges, particularly serjeants-at-law.The term "quaff" means to enthusiastically drink, referring to an alcoholic drink in general terms or to drinking large amounts or a lot at a particular time.
Derived fromAs already mentioned, Coif is a term that is derived from the French language. Which is different from the term origin language of quaff.The term quaff has its roots close to the Germanic word.

What is Coif? 

Coif" is a word that has its origin in the French language, and grammatically, this word is a noun as it is used to represent an object. The word coif means a cap or a hooded head covering. More precisely, it refers to different types of things that can cover the head. A coif is a cowl or covering of sorts worn by individuals in the fourteenth century. Some experts believe that it is derived from the cowls worn by monks in the 11th century. The coif worked out as armor for the soldiers to protect them from arrows and other pointed weapons that are capable of piercing. It also protects against getting pointed weapons stuck in and causing wounds.

Further, the term "coif" has a wider range of uses covered under it. Coifs were also common headdresses for judges, specifically for a serjeant-at-law in the medieval period. Judges were accustomed to covering their heads with the coif at all times, and in front of kings, they also practiced the custom of covering it with a black cap while passing the death sentences. As time passed, the custom of wearing the coif for judges changed. After which, those long wigs became the regular headwear of the judges. Due to this, some problems cropped up for sergeants; they were not permitted to cover their heads except while giving death sentences. However, some modifications were made, and some wigmakers modified and added circles made up of white fabric. They were added to represent the coifs. The coif and quaff are different terms, and their meaning can be understood by their application and significance. When we look at it from the point of view of the parts of speech, one is a noun and the other is a verb.

The word coif is also used to refer to a hairstyle, but it must be noted that it is not a specific type of hairstyle but a general term that can also be used to represent a hairstyle. Coif can be used to represent the hairstyle for both genders, encompassing men and women. There are various words that are close to the word "coif," such as cohune, coif, coiffe, coiffed, coiffeuse, coiba, coiffeur, coiffure, etc. But these are not synonyms in the truest sense. Some examples of the word coif can be: "He then stopped, tilted his coif, and said, "Hey, are you ok?" Other examples can be incorporating earthy minerals into the hairstyle, such as coral or turquoise hair accessories, or having an all-ready beach style that would be perfect for sunbathing.

What is quaff?

The word 'quaff' is normally used as a verb. Its origin can be traced back to the early 1400s. “The Tale of Beryn” is the book where it was first used by Geoffrey Chaucer and later used in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (1603). The meaning associated with quaff is “to drink in gulps or large gulps" or "to drink heartily."

The term “quaff” can also be traced to the old Norse term 'kafja," the meaning of which is “to gulp down.” For the very first time, it was used in the 13th century. As we know, it is a very common verb and can be used as "quaffing," which implies “to vigorously drink some beverage” or “drinking in gulps or huge gulps.” It’s a word that signifies “to drink with gusto." Simply put, this term is related to an act of drinking but quickly or so quickly that it can be said to be drinking vigorously or drinking in gulps or large gulps.

This word is more poetic, and its synonyms are words like "gulp" or ‘chug," though "quaff" is poetic, which makes it a bit different from its synonyms and makes it more refined too. Generally, this is confused with the word coif during the conversation, but to have a clear and distinct understanding of these words during the conversation, the context of the conversation can be used, as a word like "quaff," implying drinking something vigorously, can never be used in a conversation with a context related to the head covering or a cowl. So, by this, it can be distinguished by the word sounding similar to it. Various words are near the word "quaff," such as quaff, quag, quadrupole, quads, quadruplicity, quaestor, quaggy, quagmire, quaere, quahog, etc. It can be used in a sentence like "fresh, healthy herbs and a saline mineral solution when combined, make a refreshing quaff and are even invigorating." Some other examples could be: He loved to quaff glasses of vintage juice in his time. We always confuse ourselves which discussions about coif and quaff but we must understand that these words are different in origin to their meanings which we need to know first.

Differences between coif and quaff (in points)

  • When it comes to the term coif, its origins can be traced back in a time around the eleventh century, and it is closely related to French. However, the closest origin for the term quaff can be found in Germany, where it dates to the early fourteenth century.
  • The term "coif" referred to a compact head covering that. Men and women both can use it. The opposite of a "quaff" is a drink that is gulped down rapidly. Quaffing is another term for consuming certain beverages quickly and in large volumes.
  • The term "coif" means referred to a type of head covering; it is completely different from the term "quaff," which is more lyrical in character and refers to something associated with drinking.
  • Grammar-wise, these words differ from one another. "Coif is an object, so the phrase "coif" is a noun. While the verb "quaff" refers to the act of drinking quickly.
  • Coif is a noun since it refers to an actual thing in nature, but it can also refer to a particular hair type. Her hair, for instance, is flawlessly styled. But by definition, quaff is a perfect verb.
  • Utilisation of coifs was to differentiate the judges based on appearance was common and was an essential application. Coifs were a common choice for judges and serjeants-at-law during the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, the word "quaff" meant to excitedly consume an alcoholic beverage or to consume a lot or a lot of anything at one time, which has a different meaning.
  • Both words are derived from different times and different languages. As already mentioned, "coif" is a term that is derived from the French language. The term "quaff" has roots in German.
  • The term coif is also believed to have originated from the cowls, which were the coverings used by the old monks in the 11th century, but the term quaff is believed to have originated in the 1400s and has no link with a head covering.
  • The example of word coif can be, for example, a coif worn by the soldiers to protect themselves from pointed weapons, and for quaff, it can be an individual who is drinking a beverage vigorously or showing an activity of drinking enthusiastically.


It was a hefty discussion over the difference between coif and quaff, and based on that, we are drawn to the conclusion that ‘coif’ is something or an object that covers the head. Interestingly, it can be either a hairstyle or a cap, which is used to get a covering on all of the head except the part of the face. On the other hand, "quaff," is a complete and distinct term from origin, meaning, and also from the perspective of grammar, Quaff means to drink, which would be a beverage for sure, with enthusiasm, or to drink it heartily and quickly. They are usually confused as they are homophonic and pronounced in the same way, but it is obvious now that both the words are different in their characters.

Apart from this, by looking into the context of any conversation, these words can be differentiated as their meanings are very distinct. One is a noun, and the other is a verb; one is used for a head covering, and the other is for representing the activity of drinking. The terms coif and quaff both originated in different periods of history, and their purposes are also different from one another, but the confusion over their similarities can now be solved by the above example and information.


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"Difference Between Coif and Quaff." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-coif-and-quaff>.

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