After searching for vocabs and etymologies in wiktionary I translated it only myself and I've got " gratiae colaphus "

Is it correct? Or should I use "misericordiae" for "gratiae"? Or there is any classical translations that latin authors used for this?

4 Answers 4


According to Collins Dictionary, coup de grâce means:

  1. a mortal or finishing blow, esp one delivered as an act of mercy to a sufferer
  2. a final or decisive stroke

The French word grâce conveys the idea that it's a blow of mercy (perhaps as a euphemism), i.e., with the purpose of putting someone out of their misery.

However, it's often used simply to mean a death blow, and it's not easy to capture the full meaning of coup de grâce in Latin with the same conciseness.

So here's a translation for just death blow:

plaga mortifera

This is actually an expression used by Cicero:

mortiferam plagam inflixisses auguratus tui

(you had added the deadly blow of your augurship)

If it's important to convey the idea of mercy as well, I believe the best way to do that would be to add an adjective:

plaga mortifera misericors

You might be able to use just plaga misericors, but I'm not sure that it would be as clearly understood.

  • 1
    Gratias tibi ago! Now I know that translating is not just all about translating and taking etymologies of every word into latin but constructing a words with the same sense.
    – Vince
    Jun 11, 2021 at 23:49
  • @Vince - You're welcome! Jun 12, 2021 at 0:49

Smith's has this:

finishing-stroke: extrema sive ultima manus : to give the f. to the war, bello extremam m[anum] imponere, Virg. Aen. 7,572. Phr.: to put the f. to a war, bellum commissum ac profligatum conficere, Liv. 21,40, extr.: to a work, opus coeptum profligatumque perficere, Aug. in Mon. Ancyr.

While profligatum [per/con]ficere is fine, keeping manus in the translation retains the coup imagery, since coup is primarily French for "blow" (as in an attack with the hands, a punch).


In addition to the excellent answers already given, Pinkster's dictionary mentions two interesting expressions, for which I have also found quotations:

  • in mortem destringere ferrum: "to draw the sword for the coup de grâce"

Tacitus, Annales

Circumsistunt lectum percussores et prior trierarchus fusti caput eius adflixit. Iam in mortem centurioni ferrum destringenti protendens uterum 'ventrem feri' exclamavit multisque vulneribus confecta est.

"Around her bed stood the assassins, and first the trierarchus injured her head with his club. To the centurion, who drew his blade for the coup de grâce, she exclaimed, while extending her womb, 'hit my belly', and she was finished off with many wounds." (Agrippina knew that the killers had been sent by Nero, the child she had borne.)

  • causam publicam perimere: "to give the coup de grâce to the cause of the State"

Cicero, Pro Sestio 49.1:

Haec ego et multa alia cogitans hoc videbam, si causam publicam mea mors peremisset, neminem umquam fore qui auderet suscipere contra improbos civis salutem rei publicae; ...

"...if my death should have dealt the final blow to the cause of the State..."

  • Could "causam publicam perimere" be translated as a "coup d'etat"--being a final blow (end) to the State?
    – tony
    Jun 15, 2021 at 9:50
  • @tony: I suppose that might be possible!
    – Cerberus
    Jun 15, 2021 at 16:12
  • Is this worth a new question? If so, the right lies with yourself.
    – tony
    Jun 16, 2021 at 8:08

In addition to Expedito Bipes' excellent answer, if your context is “to give someone the coup de grâce,” you can use the idiom aliquem conficere, e.g.

Venator leonem confecit.
The hunter finished the lion off.

No implied notion of mercyfulness, obviously.

It can also be used of inanimate objects, but note that conficio has a range of meanings, and especially with inanimate objects, some context might be needed to make clear you are talking about a destructive (rather than constructive) type of “completion,” so to speak.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.