Coup de grâce
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A coup de grâce (pron.: / /; French: [ku də ɡʁɑs], "blow of mercy") is a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal. It may be a mercy killing of civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies, with or without the sufferer's consent. It may also be the final event that causes a figurative death: The business had been struggling for years. The sharp jump in oil prices was the coup de grâce.
The phrase "coup de grâce" pronounced by a native French speaker
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Examples of coup de grâce include shooting the heart or head (typically the back of the skull) of a wounded, but still living, person during an execution or by humanely killing a suffering, mortally wounded soldier, in war, for whom medical aid is not available. Other examples include firing squads administering a coup de grâce if the first hail of gunfire fails to kill the prisoner or a near-beheading to quickly end a samurai's agony after seppuku.
See also 
- Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries, eds. The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005. ISBN 978-0618604999 p. 119.
- Charles Harrington Elster. The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide for the Careful Speaker. 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. ISBN 978-0618423156 p. 110-111.