cofferdam

[kaw-fer-dam, kof-er-]
noun
1.
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.
2.
Nautical. a sealed void between two bulkheads, as for insulation or as an extra barrier to the escape of liquids or vapors.

Origin:
1730–40; coffer + dam1

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World English Dictionary
cofferdam (ˈkɒfəˌdæm)
 
n
1.  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
2.  (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

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Example sentences for cofferdams
The caissons or cofferdams are implanted deep into the floor of a lake or river.
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