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 coup de grâce (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.

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 (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.

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 Sometimes the coup de grace is delivered in the bloodstream, after the invader has breached the gates. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, 21 Oct. 2021 Tommy La Stella put the team ahead with a two-strike single, and Crawford provided the coup de grace with a three-run homer, his 23rd, an on-going career high. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Sep. 2021 The coup de grace, however, is the moment the 1,600-ton ship is lifted into the air, her keel snapped in half like a twig. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 16 Sep. 2021 The coup de grace was, however, the silver-gray Haider Ackermann suit worn for the movie's Venice premiere. CNN, 7 Sep. 2021 Segura provided the coup de grace with a grand slam off Daniel Norris two batters into the left-hander's appearance. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 Sep. 2021 The coup de grace was a pick-your-spot laser from the top of the box that split a pair of sliding Galaxy defenders and glanced off Bond’s hand before nestling into the side of the net.. Chris Bils, Dallas News, 24 July 2021 That set up the night’s coup de grace, a two-out grand slam by Mike Yastrzemski into McCovey Cove that catapulted San Francisco to a 9-8 victory over the Diamondbacks. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 June 2021 The coup de grace came late in the meet, in the 5,000. Ken Goe For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 17 May 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near coup de grâce

coup de glotte

coup de grâce

coup de main

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coup de grâce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for coup de grâce

coup de grâce


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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