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 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 In a year that’s seen Epic give away more than 50 games, dumping another dozen on the list still feels like one hell of a coup de grace. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Epic's giving away 12 free games over 12 days to finish out 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 In what had the look of a gangland-style coup de grace, the barrel of a gun had been thrust into his mouth, and the explosion had blown off the back of his head. Steve Helling,, "30 Years After the Menendez Brothers Murders, Read PEOPLE's 1990 Cover Story," 20 Aug. 2019 He was absent all afternoon Thursday as the Basques delivered what appeared to be his coup de grace and was later pictured leaving a Madrid restaurant in which he’d been holed up with advisers for seven hours as his political support ebbed away. Esteban Duarte,, "Rajoy Concedes, Sanchez Will Become Prime Minister: Spain Update," 1 June 2018 The coup de grace came from Joanne Calabria, the longtime spokeswoman for the news outlet on the other end of the dial, Channel 3, who eventually became a vice president there. Stu Bykofsky,, "How I learned not to use the 'C-word' | Stu Bykofsky," 1 June 2018 Before the coup de Grace, jokes at her expense were a bit risqué. The Economist, "Satire is booming after Robert Mugabe’s fall," 24 May 2018 And then, on Thursday, for his coup de grace, Monopoly scaled a 40-foot wall at the front of the Fontainebleau Hotel to paint a giant mural featuring the TAG Heuer logo alongside his namesake character. Scott Christian, Esquire, "How TAG Heuer’s Unlikely Collab With Graffiti Artist Alec Monopoly Came Together," 28 Dec. 2017 And then, in the coup de grace, a New York judge ruled Zervos's defamation suit against Trump could proceed and that a sitting president can be sued in state court for nonofficial acts. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "3 women. 1 day. 3 growing predicaments for Trump.," 21 Mar. 2018

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

28 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Coup de grâce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 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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Spanish Central: Translation of coup de grâce

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