coup de grâce

\ ˌkü-də-ˈgräs How to pronounce coup de grâce (audio) \
variants: or coup de grace
plural coups de grâce or coups de grace\ ˌkü-​də-​ˈgräs How to pronounce coups de grace (audio) \

Definition of coup de grâce

1 : a death blow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded
2 : 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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Synonyms for coup de grâce


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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.

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 But for one neighbor, the coup de grace proved to be 300 daffodils. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, "Volunteers bring green thumbs to Cleveland Heights’ Noble neighborhood," 20 Oct. 2020 The coup de grace came early in the fourth quarter, when Sanders picked off a screen pass and returned it 69 yards for a score. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "No. 1 Denton Ryan overwhelms Arlington Martin as 5-star recruit Ja’Tavion Sanders puts on a show," 26 Sep. 2020 The coup de grace came just hours before Monday’s trade deadline: Clevinger, who averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings the past two seasons and has a high-octane three-pitch mix worthy of a No. 1 starter and possible playoff ace. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Padres going all in: San Diego lands starter Mike Clevinger in trade with Indians," 31 Aug. 2020 The coup de grace, however, comes during the chorus. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "The Beatles and the Sexual Revolution," 25 Aug. 2020 Encouraging, rather than requiring, such an unhelpful standard is merely the coup de grace. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Discourage a chatty gym mate with a touch of drama," 8 Apr. 2020 Peavy had 20 second-half points, the last a driving dunk with 2:17 remaining for Duncanville’s coup de grace. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "Basketball playoffs: Texas Tech signee gets plenty of help as No. 1 Duncanville advances," 28 Feb. 2020 And then came his coup de grace, an atonement for the past two weeks. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Xavier Tillman's put-back slam after missed layups a revival for Michigan State basketball," 12 Feb. 2020 His coup de grace: 20 carries for a career-high 149 yards against Notre Dame in his first career start. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football’s running backs room is as deep and talented as Jim Harbaugh has had," 14 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coup de grâce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coup de grâce

1699, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for coup de grâce

French coup de grâce, literally, stroke of mercy

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Time Traveler for coup de grâce

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The first known use of coup de grâce was in 1699

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Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Coup de grâce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for coup de grâce

coup de grâce

How to pronounce coup de grâce (audio)

English Language Learners 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

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