Definition of coup in US English:



  • 1A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.

    ‘he was overthrown in an army coup’
    • ‘I think this coup would look more like the failed 1963 effort than like 1968, and has the potential to roil the country and the region for decades.’
    • ‘If there was some sort of coup, when did it take place?’
    • ‘A year ago, they came close to that goal when a general strike they organized became the pretext for a brief military coup.’
    • ‘This was the coup d'état of his grandfather Louis XV and chancellor Maupeou against the parlements.’
    • ‘From the moment he stood on a tank in August 1991 to face down an attempted Communist coup, Yeltsin was championed by the West as Russia's great hope.’
    • ‘Earlier this year more than 70 suspected mercenaries were arrested for their alleged plan to help carry out that coup.’
    • ‘It doesn't necessarily happen all at once, or as the result of a traditional military coup d' état.’
    • ‘Independence came in 1957, and nine years later came the first military coup.’
    • ‘There's a rumor that there's been some kind of coup or civil war there.’
    • ‘In the last year, three general strikes called to protest against the president, protests in the streets, people killed, and one attempted coup.’
    • ‘In November he precipitated a second coup d'état.’
    • ‘What drives the story are the aftershocks of this failed coup.’
    • ‘‘The military coup is today almost exclusively an African phenomenon’, he said.’
    • ‘It is perhaps simplest to speak of a creeping military coup.’
    • ‘The country's all-powerful military, which has seized power in three coups since 1960, sees staunch secularism as a pillar of the state.’
    • ‘These months following October's bloodless coup have been eventful indeed.’
    • ‘Nigeria's history is tainted with the blood of its citizens in everything from civil strife to military coups to ethnic skirmishes among the country's 200-or-so tribes.’
    • ‘This development in turn would almost certainly provoke another military coup to prevent it from happening.’
    • ‘There are reports coming out of that region of a possible military coup.’
    • ‘They claimed she was making strange demands of the budget, she claimed it was a coup d'état by radical prohibitionists who had infiltrated the organization.’
    seizure of power, overthrow, takeover, ousting, deposition, regime change
    View synonyms
  • 2A notable or successful stroke or move.

    ‘it was a major coup to get such a prestigious contract’
    • ‘If he's cleared, it'll be a massive publicity coup for him.’
    • ‘Make no mistake: they have pulled off a major coup and reconfirmed their role as the mainstay of the nation's broadcasting.’
    • ‘They pulled off a coup and the achievement should not be under-rated.’
    • ‘His selection as President by the Supreme Court in 2000 was a presidential and judicial coup.’
    • ‘The company, which is developing medical treatments for a number of diseases, announced that it planned to expand its Irish facility in a major coup for Cork.’
    • ‘This may prove to have been the biggest marketing coup of all.’
    • ‘If the deal is successful, it would be a major coup for the galleries, putting its collection of modern art on a par with London's Tate Modern.’
    • ‘And they comforted themselves with the knowledge that if the court had not intervened, they would have scored a major coup.’
    • ‘And the first major media entity to cover it in depth will score a major coup.’
    • ‘Acknowledging his lack of clothing experience, he has concentrated on getting the stores right while scoring two major coups in recruiting experts to oversee the fashion.’
    • ‘That's really the lesson of this latest intelligence coup.’
    • ‘The merger itself was a coup of sorts.’
    • ‘The actor has worked a lot recently, but he counts this role of playing his bodybuilding idol among his best-ever casting coups.’
    • ‘A young man who scored a major coup by being elected to both local authorities having had difficulties in getting nominated.’
    • ‘Capturing him was a major coup for the Russians.’
    • ‘There was a group of investors in this coup, and like all investors, what they hope to do is make a great deal of money out of their investment.’
    • ‘His appointment by the school management is regarded as a major coup in the context of securing the services of a high profile sporting figure.’
    • ‘For some it was a massive publicity coup for the county town to host such a prestigious event.’
    • ‘I mean it's an extraordinary journalistic coup.’
    • ‘Two of the greatest Second World War intelligence coups were achieved by the Russians.’
    success, triumph, feat, successful manoeuvre, stunt, accomplishment, achievement, attainment, stroke, master stroke, stroke of genius
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 An unusual or unexpected but successful tactic in card play.
  • 3historical (among some North American Indian peoples) an act of touching an armed enemy in battle as a deed of bravery, or an act of first touching an item of the enemy's in order to claim it.

  • 4A contusion caused by contact of the brain with the skull at the point of trauma.

    Compare with contrecoup


Late 18th century: from French, from medieval Latin colpus ‘blow’ (see cope).