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.

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

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 photograph was the work of a makeup artist — the coup de grace of a straight-out-of-Hollywood ruse agents had devised to ensnare Aslanian. Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2022 This poor matching performance has contributed to widespread mistrust and distaste for targeted ads, which could be the coup de grace for traditional digital advertising. Michael Adair, Forbes, 13 May 2022 The coup de grace is a singing and dancing omelette — the British spelling seems apt — flanked by singing and dancing eggs. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2022 The seemingly endless rally in the dollar, which makes commodities priced in dollars more expensive abroad, is simply the coup de grace. Megha Mandavia, WSJ, 18 July 2022 The coup de grace came as Russia's war fueled even higher prices. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 3 June 2022 That’s why most of the snakeheads in Kenny’s cooler had holes in their heads from arrows, knives or screwdrivers: from when fishermen administer the coup de grace, as if dispatching a zombie. Jason Nark, Washington Post, 17 May 2022 The coup de grace of the project: Researching present-day businesses, banks that directly benefited from land sale contracts, and placing a land marker in front of one of those companies later this year. Darcel Rockett,, 21 Mar. 2022 The combination of the above issues – non-linear career patterns, more time spent caring for children and elders – results in the final coup de grace. Avivah Wittenberg-cox, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Feb. 2023.

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