coupé

Definitions

General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a car with closed two-door bodywork usually having a boot (i.e. not a hatchback) and sleek and sporty lines, the rear seat often being rather cramped.

Law

  • noun
    (written as coup)
    a rapid change of government which removes one government by force and replaces it by another

Military

  • noun
    (written as coup)
    a significant (and usually successful) action

Origin & History of “coupé”

Coupé is the past participle of the French verb couper ‘cut’, and it was originally applied in the early 19th century to a type of four-wheeled covered carriage (in full a carrosse coupé ‘cut-off carriage’). The notion behind the term is a truncated version of an earlier type of coach, known as a berlin, achieved by removing the rear seat. The first record of its application to closed two-door cars comes in 1908. The French verb couper is a derivative of the noun coup ‘blow’ (itself borrowed into English in the 18th century), which in turn came from medieval Latin colpus (ultimate source of English coppice, which etymologically denotes the ‘cutting down’ of trees). Earlier in time the word can be traced back via Latin colaphus to Greek kólaphos ‘blow, punch’. A related word is coupon, borrowed from French in the 19th century.
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