Definition of coup de main in English:

coup de main

noun

  • A sudden surprise attack, especially one made by an army during war.

    ‘the bridge was seized by a coup de main’
    • ‘The 4th AD pursued German forces into Lorraine, and crossed the Meuse River in a coup de main on 31 August 1944.’
    • ‘The neocons' coup de main was foiled, or at least postponed.’
    • ‘So he is working on expanding his repertoire of moves, trying to find a coup de main.’
    • ‘This cooperation, called coups de main (literally, ‘strokes of the hand’), was especially crucial in the era before worker's compensation, welfare, social security, and the like.’
    • ‘A small force of his glider troops knocked out the Belgian Eben Emael fortress in a spectacular coup de main in May 1940.’
    • ‘The German invasion of Crete relied heavily on air power - an aerial bombardment to demoralize the defenders followed up by paratroopers who delivered the coup de main.’
    • ‘On the other hand there was also a discernible inclination amongst some officers to be associated with a spectacular, war-winning coup de main operation.’

Origin

French, literally ‘stroke of hand’.

Pronunciation

coup de main

/ˌkuː də ˈmã//ku də mɛ̃/