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[kuhl-duh-sak, -sak, koo l-; French kyduh-sak] /ˈkʌl dəˈsæk, -ˌsæk, ˈkʊl-; French küdəˈsak/
noun, plural culs-de-sac
[kuhlz-duh-sak, -sak, koo lz-; French kyduh-sak] /ˈkʌlz dəˈsæk, -ˌsæk, ˈkʊlz-; French küdəˈsak/ (Show IPA)
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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cul-de-sac
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It stood on the strand near the cul-de-sac, a little distance from the Habitation.

    Old Quebec Sir Gilbert Parker and Claude Glennon Bryan
  • Suppose this one that she had chosen at random terminated in a cul-de-sac?

    The Gold Girl James B. Hendryx
  • That is possible; still I do not enter that cul-de-sac to-night unaccompanied save by you.

    Recollections of a Policeman William Russell (aka Thomas Waters)
  • It was only at rare times that he ran his head into a cul-de-sac.

    The Place of Honeymoons Harold MacGrath
  • There was no outlet, for it was a cul-de-sac—a natural court—such as are often found among the amygdaloidal mountains of Mexico.

    The Lone Ranche Captain Mayne Reid
  • Stratton Street, a cul-de-sac, was built about 1693 by Lady Stratton.

    Mayfair, Belgravia, and Bayswater Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • Shut into a cul-de-sac, he could only go out as he had come, and that he could not do until he had the wind right aft.

British Dictionary definitions for cul-de-sac


/ˈkʌldəˌsæk; ˈkʊl-/
noun (pl) culs-de-sac, 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
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
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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
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cul-de-sac in Medicine

cul-de-sac (kŭl'dĭ-sāk', kul'-)
n. pl. culs-de-sac (kŭlz'-, kulz'-) or cul-de-sacs
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.
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