Air Squadron

The long sobs of the violins of autumn….

Military terms: Coup de grâce

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The Coup de Grace is given to young French Collaborators | Artist:Carl Mydans

The expression coup de grâce ( /ˌkuː də ˈɡrɑːs/; French: [ku də ɡʁɑs], “blow of mercy”) means a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature. The phrase can refer to the killing of civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies, with or without the consent of the sufferer.

It is often used figuratively to describe the last in a series of events which brings about the end of some entity; for example: “The business had been failing for years; the coup de grâce was the sudden jump in oil prices.

Listen: The phrase “coup de grâce” pronounced by a native French speaker

In the context of an execution, it means shooting the heart or head (typically the back of the skull) of an already wounded, but not yet dead, person during a military or civilian execution. It can also refer to the near beheading that follows a samurai’s seppuku.

In wartime, it can also be used to refer to the shooting (or other killing) of a seriously wounded person, either friendly or enemy, who is not expected to live or for whom medical aid cannot be obtained.

In countries that authorize executions by firing squads, a coup de grâce can be administered if the first hail of gunfire fails to kill the prisoner.

Source: wikipedia

Written by Air Squadron

March 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I tend to think of it as putting someone or something out of their misery.


    March 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm

  2. I’m a closet etymologist, thanks for the post.


    March 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

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