One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A line of animals or slaves fastened or driven along together.
- ‘She'd known something was different when the coffle of slaves had taken a different turn in the endless maze of corridors.’
- ‘When she was reasonably dry, she stepped off to stand patiently in the indicated coffle, waiting for the guards to chain her to the girls in front and behind.’
- ‘We don't call this economic system ‘slavery’ any more because we have laws against the whips, coffles, and chains.’
- ‘They were not gentle as they bound her arms behind her, gagged her, and fastened her into the coffle.’
- ‘She and the men on the coffle are able to plan an uprising together and that action binds them forever in friendship.’
Mid 18th century: from Arabic qāfila ‘caravan’.
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