coup de grâce


variants or coup de grace
plural coups de grâce or coups de grace ˌkü-də-ˈgräs How to pronounce coup de grâce (audio)
: a death blow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded
: a decisive finishing blow, act, or event
The decision to cut funding is the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal.

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Borrowed directly from French and first appearing in English at the end of the 17th century, coup de grâce (also sometimes styled without the circumflex as coup de grace) translates literally as "stroke of grace" or "blow of mercy," and originally referred to a mercy killing, or to 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.) 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.

Examples of coup de grâce in a Sentence

The legislature's decision to cut funding has administered the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal. the prosecutor presented his coupe de grâce—a videotape of the beating
Recent Examples on the Web The coup de grace was Parsons getting in the ring with a Sumo wrestler in Tokyo. Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 13 May 2024 The coup de grace was lead singer Sydney Sierota asking if the band could count on seeing everyone again during their upcoming US tour, and that the band would be back soon. Preston Jones, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 31 Jan. 2024 And as Bloomberg noted last month, talk of DEI has fallen precipitously in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of affirmative action, in what some fear might be the coup de grace to what was once a zealous championing of corporate diversity efforts. Ruth Umoh, Fortune, 4 Oct. 2023 And finally, on Saturday, Springsteen & Co. returned to deliver the coup de grace with another three-hour blitz that defied Father Time. USA TODAY, 9 July 2023 Yoshida provided the coup de grace with a two-out grand slam off Guerra, who followed by finally retiring the 12th batter of the inning on a pop foul. Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel, 23 Apr. 2023 The assiduous redistribution of screentime wealth pays real dividends in some cases, for example when Diane Villegas as hotel employee Esperanza gets to deliver, quite unexpectedly, a coup de grace in an action that in a more traditional film would have been a job for a white, male hero. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Sep. 2022 Five years later came the coup de grace. Mary Carole McCauley,, 4 Aug. 2021 The coup de grace was the 1906 earthquake. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 July 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coup de grâce.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French coup de grâce, literally, stroke of mercy

First Known Use

1699, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of coup de grâce was in 1699


Dictionary Entries Near coup de grâce

Cite this Entry

“Coup de grâce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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