Coup de grace
Coup Coup (k[=oo]), n. [F., fr.L. colaphus a cuff, Gr. ko`lafos.] 1. A sudden stroke delivered with promptness and force; -- used also in various ways to convey the idea of an unexpected, clever, and successful tactic or stratagem. [1913 Webster +PJC]

2. A single roll of the wheel at roulette, or a deal at rouge et noir. [Cant] [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

3. Among some tribes of North American Indians especially of the Great Plains, the act of striking or touching an enemy in warfare with the hand or at close quarters, as with a short stick, in such a manner as by custom to entitle the doer to count the deed an act of bravery; hence, any of various other deeds recognized by custom as acts of bravery or honor.

While the coup was primarily, and usually, a blow with something held in the hand, other acts in warfare which involved great danger to him who performed them were also reckoned coups by some tribes. --G. B. Grinnell.

Among the Blackfeet the capture of a shield, bow, gun, war bonnet, war shirt, or medicine pipe was deemed a coup. --G. B. Grinnell. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

{Coup de grace} (k[=oo]` de gr[.a]s") [F.], the stroke of mercy with which an executioner ends by death the sufferings of the condemned; hence, a decisive, finishing stroke.

{Coup de main} (k[=oo]` de m[a^]N") [F.] (Mil.), a sudden and unexpected movement or attack.

{Coup de soleil} (k[=o]` de s[-o]*l[asl]l or -l[asl]"y') [F.] (Med.), a sunstroke. See {Sunstroke}.

{Coup d'['e]tat} (k[=oo]" d[asl]*t[aum]") [F.] (Politics), a sudden, decisive exercise of power whereby the existing government is subverted without the consent of the people; an unexpected measure of state, more or less violent; a stroke of policy.

{Coup d'[oe]il} (k[=oo]` d[~e]l"). [F.] (a) A single view; a rapid glance of the eye; a comprehensive view of a scene; as much as can be seen at one view. (b) The general effect of a picture. (c) (Mil.) The faculty or the act of comprehending at a glance the weakness or strength of a military position, of a certain arrangement of troops, the most advantageous position for a battlefield, etc. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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