coup de grâce

noun \ˌkü-də-ˈgräs\
variants: or

coup de grace

Definition of coup de grâce


coups de grâce


coups de grace

  1. 1 :  a deathblow or death shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded

  2. 2 :  a decisive finishing blow, act, or event The decision to cut funding is the coup de grâace to the governor's proposal.

coup de grâce was our Word of the Day on 10/25/2006. Hear the podcast!

Examples of coup de grâce in a sentence

  1. The legislature's decision to cut funding has administered the coup de grâce to the governor's proposal.

  2. the prosecutor presented his coupe de grâce—a videotape of the beating

Did You Know?

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.

Origin and Etymology of coup de grâce

French coup de grâce, literally, stroke of mercy

First Known Use: 1699

COUP DE GRÂCE Defined for English Language Learners

coup de grâce

noun \ˌkü-də-ˈgräs\

Definition of coup de grâce for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Learn More about coup de grâce

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to cast off or become cast off

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