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coup de grâce

noun, \ˌkü-də-ˈgräs\

Simple Definition of coup de grâce

  • : an action or event that finally ends or destroys something that has been getting weaker or worse

  • : a hit or shot that kills a person or animal that is suffering

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of coup de grâce

plural coups de grâce or coups de grace \ˌkü-də-\

  1. 1 :  a deathblow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded

  2. 2 :  a decisive finishing blow, act, or event

Examples of coup de grâce in a sentence

  1. The legislature's decision to cut funding has administered the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal.

  2. <the prosecutor presented his coupe de grâce—a videotape of the beating>

Did You Know?

Borrowed directly from French and first appearing in English at the end of the 17th century, "coup de grâce" (literally, a "stroke of grace" or "blow of mercy") originally referred to a mercy killing, or the act of putting to death a person or animal who was severely injured and unlikely to recover. (In some contexts the term is used to refer to the final act of executing a convicted criminal.) Less than fifty years later, "coup de grâce" had come to mean "an act or event that puts a definite end to something." Other "coup" terms that have made the jump from French to English include "coup de main," for a sudden, forceful attack, and "coup d'état" for a violent overthrow of a government usually by a small group.

Variants of coup de grâce

or coup de grace play \ˌkü-də-ˈgräs\

Origin of coup de grâce

French coup de grâce, literally, stroke of mercy

First Known Use: 1699

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