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[koo] /ku/
noun, plural coups
[kooz; French koo] /kuz; French ku/ (Show IPA)
a highly successful, unexpected stroke, act, or move; a clever action or accomplishment.
(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.
count coup,
  1. to perform a coup.
  2. to recount or relate the coups one has performed.
Origin of coup1
1640-50; < French: literally, blow, stroke, Old French colp < Late Latin colpus, Latin colaphus < Greek kólaphos


[kohp, koop] /koʊp, kup/
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), Scot.
overturn; upset.
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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for coup
  • Easier to leave you in limbo until the form letter delivers the coup de grace.
  • At this point in time, no one can be sure as to whether the coup would have succeeded or failed.
  • Together they plotted a failed coup and spent over a year in prison.
  • The generals justified the coup on security grounds.
  • She then led the country for two tumultuous years before being deposed in a military coup.
  • Twenty, including several admirals, were charged with drawing up plans for a military coup.
  • In the past the mechanism for preventing such a disaster has been a coup.
  • There are fears of further bloodshed, even of a possible coup.
  • At first national officials said the seizure was an intelligence coup.
  • Any sudden impact causes the brain to accelerate against the skull, a movement called a coup.
British Dictionary definitions for coup


a brilliant and successful stroke or action
short for coup d'état
Word Origin
C18: from French: blow, from Latin colaphus blow with the fist, from Greek kolaphos


to turn or fall over
a rubbish tip
Word Origin
C15: perhaps identical with obsolete cope to strike; see cope1


(Scot) to barter; traffic; deal
Word Origin
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
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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
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coup in Culture
coup [(kooh)]

In politics, an abbreviation for coup d'état.

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