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 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 Then, to provide the coup de grace, sophomore Michaela Fairwell kicked out to Robinson, who drained a three from the top of the arc. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 4 Mar. 2023 Schmidt provided the coup de grace with a 3-yard touchdown run with 4:18 left for the game’s final score, capping his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Rick Kretzschmar, Dallas News, 11 Nov. 2022 Adrian Houser rebounded from a shaky open to pitch his best game in more than three months and Victor Caratini provided the coup de grace with a two-out, three-run home run in the sixth inning to highlight a 6-4 decision over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel, 5 Sep. 2022 The coup de grace was the end... Christina Butan,, 12 Nov. 2021 Bay dogs, which are often curs or hounds, scent pigs out of cover, bark on the track, and bay them for the coup de grace—often when the pig turns to fight. The Editors, Field & Stream, 9 Jan. 2023 Holland even had the coup de grace with a putback with 11.4 seconds left to give Kimball a 58-48 edge, ensuring the Knights their first invitational title since 2011. Dallas News, 30 Dec. 2022 See More

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 30 May. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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