[kuhl-duh-sak, -sak, koo l-; French kyduh-sak]

noun, plural culs-de-sac [kuhlz-duh-sak, -sak, koo lz-; French kyduh-sak] /ˈkʌlz dəˈsæk, -ˌsæk, ˈkʊlz-; French küdəˈsak/.

a street, lane, etc., closed at one end; blind alley; dead-end street.
any situation in which further progress is impossible.
the hemming in of a military force on all sides except behind.
Anatomy. a saclike cavity, tube, or the like, open only at one end, as the cecum.

Origin of cul-de-sac

1730–40; < French: literally, bottom of the sack Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cul-de-sac

Contemporary Examples of cul-de-sac

Historical Examples of cul-de-sac

  • She knew of situations like that, the cul-de-sac of chastity, worse than any devised by a Javert.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • It is a labyrinth of winding alley often ending in a cul-de-sac.

    The Cornwall Coast

    Arthur L. Salmon

  • Suppose this one that she had chosen at random terminated in a cul-de-sac?

    The Gold Girl

    James B. Hendryx

  • It was only at rare times that he ran his head into a cul-de-sac.

  • Well, my mind has been wandering and stumbled on a cul-de-sac as usual.

    Clair de Lune

    Michael Strange

British Dictionary definitions for cul-de-sac


noun plural culs-de-sac or cul-de-sacs

a road with one end blocked off; dead end
an inescapable position
any tube-shaped bodily cavity or pouch closed at one end, such as the caecum

Word Origin for cul-de-sac

C18: from French, literally: bottom of the bag
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 cul-de-sac

1738, as an anatomical term, from French cul-de-sac, literally "bottom of a sack," from Latin culus "bottom" (for second element, see sack (n.1)). Application to streets and alleys is from 1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for cul-de-sac


[kŭldĭ-săk, kul′-]

n. pl. culs-de-sac (kŭlz-, kulz′-)

A saclike cavity or tube open only at one end.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.