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[kaw-fer-dam, kof-er-] /ˈkɔ fərˌdæm, ˈkɒf ər-/
a watertight enclosure placed or constructed in waterlogged soil or under water and pumped dry so that construction or repairs can proceed under normal conditions.
Nautical. a sealed void between two bulkheads, as for insulation or as an extra barrier to the escape of liquids or vapors.
Origin of cofferdam
1730-40; coffer + dam1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cofferdam
Historical Examples
  • The whole was built in a cofferdam, quite dry, and the opening was a holiday.

  • The lower part of C bulkhead was doubled and was in the form of a cofferdam.

    Loss of the Steamship 'Titanic' British Government
  • Referring to the cost of cofferdam work, we see that, in order to excavate the 58 cu.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • A hand pump served to keep the cofferdam dry enough for excavating; but in more open material a power pump is usually required.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • And the night shift began to repair the cofferdam for old Jezebel had dropped suddenly back into her old trail.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • The foundations were put down by means of a cofferdam which was kept dry by pumping.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
British Dictionary definitions for cofferdam


a watertight structure, usually of sheet piling, that encloses an area under water, pumped dry to enable construction work to be carried out. Below a certain depth a caisson is required
(on a ship) a compartment separating two bulkheads or floors, as for insulation or to serve as a barrier against the escape of gas or oil
Often shortened to coffer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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