See more synonyms for coup on
noun, plural coups [kooz; French koo] /kuz; French ku/.
  1. a highly successful, unexpected stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment.
  2. (among the Plains Indians of North America) a brave or reckless deed performed in battle by a single warrior, as touching or striking an enemy warrior without sustaining injury oneself.
  3. coup d'état.
  1. count coup, (among Plains Indians of North America)
    1. to perform a coup.
    2. to recount or relate the coups one has performed.

Origin of coup

1640–50; < French: literally, blow, stroke, Old French colp < Late Latin colpus, Latin colaphus < Greek kólaphos


[kohp, koop]
verb (used with or without object) Scot.
  1. overturn; upset.

Origin of coup

1350–1400; Middle English coupe to pay for < Old Norse kaupa to buy, barter; cognate with Old English cēapian, German kaufen. See cheap Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for coup

Contemporary Examples of coup

Historical Examples of coup

  • He preferred to wait and see what coup it was she was now preparing.

    Cleo The Magnificent

    Louis Zangwill

  • He was taken prisoner by the insurgents at the time of the Coup d'Etat.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • He sat down at the table and began a warm panegyric on the Coup d'Etat.

  • Eugene briefly announced the complete success of the Coup d'Etat.

  • You had just planned a coup on the Stock Exchange which promised you immense rewards.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for coup


  1. a brilliant and successful stroke or action
  2. short for coup d'état

Word Origin for coup

C18: from French: blow, from Latin colaphus blow with the fist, from Greek kolaphos




  1. to turn or fall over
  1. a rubbish tip

Word Origin for coup

C15: perhaps identical with obsolete cope to strike; see cope 1


  1. Scot to barter; traffic; deal

Word Origin for coup

C14: from Old Norse kaupa to buy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for coup

c.1400, from Old French coup, colp "a blow, strike" (12c.), from Medieval Latin colpus, from Vulgar Latin colapus, from Latin colaphus "a cuff, box on the ear," from Greek kolaphos "a blow, slap." Meaning "a sudden decisive act" is 1852, short for coup d'etat. In Modern French the word is a workhorse, describing everything from a pat on the back to a whipping, and is used as well of thunder, gusts of wind, gunshots, and chess moves.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

coup in Culture



In politics, an abbreviation for coup d'état.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.