coups de grace

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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