• synonyms

coup de grâce

[kooduh grahs]
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noun, plural coups de grâce [kooduh grahs] /kudə ˈgrɑs/. French.
  1. a death blow, especially one delivered mercifully to end suffering.
  2. any finishing or decisive stroke.
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Origin of coup de grâce

literally, blow of mercy
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for coup de grace

Historical Examples

  • We may have to administer the "coup-de-grace" with our hand-bayonets.

    "Over There" with the Australians

    R. Hugh Knyvett

  • You cannot be killed accidentally; Odal must perform the coup-de-grace himself.

    The Dueling Machine

    Benjamin William Bova

  • Death gives the coup-de-grace to a drunken fellow who had fallen down stairs.

    The Dance of Death

    Francis Douce

  • I pull about this unnatural monster till he is tired, land him, and give him the coup-de-grace.

  • Fifteen bulls received the coup-de-grace, and Alvarez, the matador of matadors, died in the arena with her name on his lips.

    Zuleika Dobson

    Max Beerbohm

British Dictionary definitions for coup de grace

coup de grâce

noun plural coups de grâce (ku də ɡrɑs)
  1. a mortal or finishing blow, esp one delivered as an act of mercy to a sufferer
  2. a final or decisive stroke
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Word Origin

literally: blow of mercy
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 de grace


1690s, from French coup de grâce, literally "stroke of grace;" the merciful death-blow that ends another's suffering (see coup).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

coup de grace in Culture

coup de grâce

[(kooh duh grahs)]

The final blow: “He had been getting deeper and deeper in debt; the fates delivered the coup de grâce when he died.” The phrase is French for “stroke of mercy.” It originally referred to the merciful stroke that put a fatally wounded person out of his misery or to the shot delivered to the head of a prisoner after he had faced a firing squad.

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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.