Coup d’état

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The phrase coup d’état is a loan phrase from the French. We will examine the definition of coup d’état, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A coup d’état is a sudden overthrow of a government. Usually, a coup d’état is a violent, illegal seizure of power. A coup d’état may involve the military, or it may be a civilian force. A coup d’état is not simply a revolution instigated by an unhappy populace, it is a calculated power-grab by a political faction. The English expression coup d’état is derived from the French expression, coup d’étate, which translates as “stroke of the state.” The term came into use as an English expression in the early 1800s, though it had been seen earlier in English translations of French text. Today, coup d’état is often shortened to the word coup, to mean the violent overthrow of a government. The phrase coup d’état is sometimes used to describe the seizure of power in a company or organization, especially when it has been a planned undertaking.


For those Americans who have not studied the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, it allows for what amounts to a coup d’etat of an American president.  (The Chicago Tribune)

“It was a coup d’etat, which is the substitution of one judicial order for another by illegal means,” Javier Zaragoza, a prosecutor at the trial at Spain’s Supreme Court of 12 leaders of Catalonia’s independence movement that began in February.  (Bloomberg News)

The foreign minister pointed out history has shown that a coup d’etat is a common reaction to democratic advancement and the public rising up following an election, and it is usually instigated by the “deep state.” (The Malay Mail)

In the annals of terrible White House staff work, the decision to send Jared Kushner out there alone and unarmed against Jonathan Swan of Axios is going to rank right up there with Alexander Haig’s one-man coup d’etat after Ronald Reagan was shot, and whoever it was that handed Ollie North Manucher Ghorbanifar’s phone number.  (Esquire Magazine)