coup de grâce

[kooduh grahs]
noun, plural coups de grâce [kooduh grahs] . French.
a death blow, especially one delivered mercifully to end suffering.
any finishing or decisive stroke.

literally, blow of mercy Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
coup de grâce (ku də ɡrɑs)
n , pl coups de grâce
1.  a mortal or finishing blow, esp one delivered as an act of mercy to a sufferer
2.  a final or decisive stroke
[literally: blow of mercy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

coup de grace
1690s, from Fr. coup de grâce, lit. "stroke of grace;" the merciful death-blow that ends another's suffering (see coup).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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.

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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Example sentences
On the morning of the vote, pick-up trucks mounted with megaphones fanned out to deliver a coup de grace.
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