coup de grâce
Late 17th century. Borrowed from French coup de grâce (“finishing blow”). Originally referring to a merciful stroke putting a fatally wounded person out of misery or to the shot delivered to the head of a prisoner after facing a firing squad.
coup de grâce (plural coups de grâce)
Some speakers, aware that some final consonants are dropped in French, drop the final /s/ sound in grâce even though it is pronounced in French, making this sound like French coup de gras (“strike of grease”).
Literally "strike of mercy".
- finishing blow
- English: coup de grâce