coup de main


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

Example Sentences

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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coup de main.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 28 Nov. 2022.

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