Coup de main

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A coup de main (pronounced [ku də mɛ̃]; plural: coups de main, French for blow with the hand[1][2]) is a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow.


The United States Department of Defense defines it as "An offensive operation that capitalizes on surprise and simultaneous execution of supporting operations to achieve success in one swift stroke." [3]

The term coup de main originally meant "by direct assault rather than by artillery".[4]

The first Allied airborne assault in World War II, during the invasion of Normandy, on Pegasus Bridge, is an example of a coup de main operation and is sometimes referred to as Operation Coup de Main though the actual code name for the British airborne attack was Operation Tonga.[citation needed]


Emory Upton used the tactic for the Union Army during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.[5]

During the Second Battle of Porto, Arthur Wellesley crossed the Douro in a coup de main attack upon the French forces of Marshal Soult.

In popular media[edit]

  • A popular magazine from New Zealand, Coup de Main, is named after the term .[6]
  • A song by DJ Camel is titled "Le Coup de Main", referencing the ideas of a sudden and quick attack.[7]
  • The ornament for the Exotic auto rifle, "SUROS Regime", in the video game "Destiny 2" is called Coup de Main [8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "the definition of coup de main".
  2. ^ In French, coup de main can also mean "a helping hand" (informal language), or "know-how" by common usage
  3. ^ Coup de Main Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
  4. ^ Académie française (1765). Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise. Chez les Libraires associés. p. 291.
  5. ^ "Bloody Horror of Upton's Charge". 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Homepage". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  7. ^ "Upcoming songs". DJ Camel. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  8. ^ "SUROS". Retrieved 2018-05-19.

External links[edit]