Definition of coup de grâce
- The decision to cut funding is the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal.
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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
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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.
First Known Use: 1699See Words from the same year
: 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
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