coup de théâtre

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See also: coup de theatre


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from French coup de théâtre.


  • IPA(key): /ˌkuː.də.teɪˈɑː.tɹə/


coup de théâtre (plural coups de théâtre)

  1. A sudden or unexpected event in a play, pulled off by the author, the director, or even an actor.
    • 1996, Bernard Knox, endnotes to Robert Fagles's translation of The Odyssey:
      This may be due to the fact that Aeschylus, in the last play of the Oresteia (458 B.C.), brings him to Athens to stand trial for his mother's murder--a coup de théâtre that would have been spoiled if he had come from there in the first place.
  2. A theatrical trick or gesture, something staged for dramatic effect.
    1886 I had arranged to track her husband down, reason with him, work on his feelings, telegraph for his wife, and in an affecting interview throw them into each other's arms. Now, goodness knows what would happen. Certainly not my beautifully conceived coup de theatre. William John Locke, Simon the Jester, Chapter 11.


  • (sudden or unexpected event in a play): twist