Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up coup de grâce? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the Celtic May Day festival

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

oily angry maudlin prompt
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ