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A coup de main (pronounced [ku də mε̃]; plural: coups de main, French for blow with the hand[1][2]) is a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow.



The United States Department of Defense defines it as "An offensive operation that capitalizes on surprise and simultaneous execution of supporting operations to achieve success in one swift stroke." [3]

The term coup de main originally meant "by direct assault rather than by artillery".[4]

The first Allied airborne assault in World War II, during the invasion of Normandy, on Pegasus Bridge, is an example of a coup de main operation and is sometimes referred to as Operation Coup de Main though the actual code name for the British airborne attack was Operation Deadstick.


Emory Upton used the tactic for the Union Army during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.[5]

In popular mediaEdit

  • A song by DJ Camel is titled "Le Coup de Main", referencing the ideas of a sudden and quick attack.[6]
  • A popular magazine from New Zealand is titled "Coup de Main".[7]
  • The ornament for the Exotic auto rifle, "SUROS Regime", in the video game "Destiny 2" is called Coup de Main [8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "the definition of coup de main".
  2. ^ In French, coup de main can also mean "a helping hand" (informal language), or "know-how" by common usage
  3. ^ Coup de Main, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
  4. ^ Académie française (1765). Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise. Chez les Libraires associés. p. 291.
  5. ^ "Bloody Horror of Upton's Charge". 9 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Upcoming songs". DJ Camel. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  7. ^ "Homepage". Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  8. ^ "SUROS". Retrieved 2018-05-19.

External linksEdit