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July 14, 2008


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Oh, I've seen worse. I've seen bloggers spell it as "wallah!"


I just love seeing coup de grace (I cannot circonflex here) spelled and pronounced "coup de gras." The finishing touch of fat?

I will defend it but not necessarily on descriptivist grounds. (I can sing more than one tune you know.)

I've heard it used many times in just this context: the last bit of a delicious preparation that pushes it over the edge. I agree that it's very likely that the connotation of elegance gives it a boost. But I've always connected it to the motif of decadent/dangerously-delicious/so-good-it's-evil quality that leads to desserts like 'death by chocolate' and other perilous delights.

I don't speak much French, but wandering through my petit Larousse I found some signposts. It sounds to me like she just meant "finishing touch": that would be "finissage" in French, but hardly a common import. Though "coup" literally means "blow", its figurative usage is closest to "stroke", so I tried to find some "stroke of genius" usage; "coup de genié" n'exist pas, but there is "coup d'éclat", which I believe I have seen in (rare) English usage, and which has that meaning. There's also "pièce a eu du succés", which means "approbation du public", not quite right, but close too.


oops, "coup de génie". I SAID I didn't speak much French....

@Michael: Interesting! I hadn't considered the "death by chocolate" connection. However, I re-read the original reference and don't think the author intended anything quite so ... fatal. And yesterday I happened to see a French acquaintance; I asked her about the culinary "coup de grâce." She said, "Rien de rien!" Or words to that effect.

@Jessica: Yep, "coo day grah" is one of the more popular hyperforeignisms.

@Dave: A valiant effort, sir! Thanks for the detective work.

@Rebecca: I hear/see "wallah" a lot, too.

On second thought, considering the amount of fat and calories in whipped cream, Heidi's use of coup de grâce was perhaps meant nutritionally as the straw that broke the camel's back. "And now, with this last delicious and irresistible bite, we die."

@Dave: That was Wishydig's conclusion as well. Read his blog response to my post:

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