coup de main


plural coups de main ˌkü-də-ˈmaⁿ How to pronounce coup de main (audio)
: a sudden attack in force

Examples of coup de main in a Sentence

the Continental Army's attack on the British-Hessian encampment at Trenton, New Jersey, ranks as one of the most brilliant coups de main of the war
Recent Examples on the Web Ryan Reynolds walked arm in arm with Blake Lively, and there were polite air-kisses and an appearance by Martha Stewart—but like the film’s coup de main, the night was filled with surprises. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, 11 Sep. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coup de main.' 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, literally, hand stroke

First Known Use

1758, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of coup de main was in 1758

Dictionary Entries Near coup de main

Cite this Entry

“Coup de main.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

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