Coup de grâce

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Yell of Triumph, a painting by Alfred Jacob Miller depicting Native American hunters gathering around a mortally wounded buffalo, and engaging in a victory shout before administering their "coup de grâce" to the animal

A coup de grâce (/ˌk də ˈɡrɑːs/; French: [ku də ɡʁɑs] (listen) 'blow of mercy') is a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal.[1][2] It may be a mercy killing of mortally wounded civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies, with or without the sufferer's consent.

Methods[edit]

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. In pre-firearms eras the wounded were finished with edged or impact weapons to include cutting throats, blows to the head, and thrusts to the heart. Other examples include the officer leading a firing squad administering a coup de grâce to the condemned with a pistol if the first hail of gunfire fails to kill the prisoner; or a kaishakunin who performs a beheading to quickly end a samurai's agony after seppuku.

Other uses[edit]

The phrase may also refer to the final event that causes a figurative death:[2] "The business had been struggling for years. The sharp jump in oil prices was the coup de grâce."

In popular culture[edit]

In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow delivers a "coup de grâce" on Mance Rayder when he is being burnt alive by Melisandre on the orders of Stannis Baratheon.

In Full Metal Jacket, Sergeant Joker finishes off a mortally wounded sniper who turns out to be a teenage girl, as she is begging them to finish her.

Professional wrestler Fergal Devitt, better known for his ring name Finn Bálor, named his finisher, a Diving foot stomp, Coup de Grâce.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b 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 pp. 110–111.

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