Coup Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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If you live in the United States, there’s no doubt that you’ve come across the word coup once or twice — especially in recent months. However, do you know what it means? Not to worry — The Word Counter is here to help!

In this article, we’re exploring the increasingly popular word coup to uncover its definition, origin, and more. So, if you’re wondering what coup means or how the term differs from insurrection, riot, or sedition — keep reading. 

What Is the Definition of Coup?

Our word of the day coup (kuː) — aka coup d’état — can be defined as a sudden occasion when a group of people takes control of a country, usually by means of military force. 

Unlike a revolution — which is usually achieved by large numbers of people working for basic economic, social, and political change — the term coup refers to a change in power from the top that merely results in the sudden replacement of leading government personnel.  

In other words, the definition of a coup is a political uprising in which power changes hands. 

What Is the Origin of the Word Coup?

The history behind our word of the day is a bit unclear; however, the word coup — which is short for coup d’état (literally meaning “stroke of the state”) — didn’t make its debut in the English language until after the 19th century. 

That said, here is a short list of coups and coup attempts from ancient times to the present:

  • The Beer Hall Putsch
  • Malian Coup
  • Orange Revolution
  • The Regime of the Colonels
  • The Musharraf Coup
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Muammar Gaddafi
  • All Saint’s Massacre
  • Cuban Revolution
  • The Ugandan Coup d’Etat
  • Coup of 18 Brumaire
  • Hungarian Military Coup
  • Operation Cold Chop
  • Argentine Revolution
  • Carnation Revolution
  • Saur Revolution
  • Operation Barracuda
  • Fall of Kabul

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Coup?

Now that you are better acquainted with the word coup, it’s time to review some synonyms and antonyms. In short, synonyms are words or phrases that have the same or nearly the same meaning. In contrast, an antonym is a word that means the opposite of another word. 


  • Stroke of genius
  • Seizure of power
  • Overthrown
  • Takeover
  • Ousting
  • Retribution
  • Success
  • Deposition
  • Accomplishments
  • Triumphs
  • Regime change
  • Bloodless coup
  • Palace revolution
  • Rebellion
  • Revolt
  • Mutiny
  • Feat
  • Insurrection
  • Insurgence
  • Rising
  • Rioting
  • Riot


  • Election
  • Cooperation
  • Non-engagement
  • Competition
  • Disassembly
  • Attendance
  • Non-involvement
  • Nonparticipation
  • Segregation

How Can You Use Coup in a Sentence?

A coup can be defined as a sudden, successful move or action, but do you know how to use it properly in a sentence? Not to worry; we put together a few example sentences for you to review below:

The violence at the White House today was an attempted coup as well as an act of insurrection egged on by a corrupt leader to overthrow our democracy.

When the coup failed, the emperor killed everyone who tried to remove him from power.

If you open a thesaurus, you’ll discover all the synonyms for the word coup.

The rebels were sentenced to death for their part in October’s coup attempt.

Tom was overthrown in an army coup.

We celebrated after the successful completion of the coup.

Did you know that the word coup comes from Greek kolaphos and Latin colaphus?

The story about the queen was a real coup.

Why is the term coup trending in the United States?

Those who want to see a change of government may engage in a coup to overthrow Biden.

‘Someone told me that there’s been some kind of coup or civil war there.

During his reign as president, there were over a dozen attempted coups.

Stacy pulled off a great coup in getting the CEO to agree to an interview.

There have been a total of 22 coup attempts against the new government leader.

What Are Translations of Coup?

Did you know that there are a number of ways to say coup? Here are some common translations of our word of the day:

  • American English — coup 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — golpe (de estado) 
  • Afrikaans — staatsgreep
  • Chinese (simplified) — 政变
  • European Spanish — golpe 
  • Arabic — انقلاب
  • Italian — colpo di Stato 
  • Turkish — darbe
  • Ukrainian — путч
  • Japanese — クーデター
  • Korean — 쿠데타
  • Bulgarian — пуч
  • Finnish — vallankaappaus
  • Greek — πραξικόπημα
  • British English — coup
  • Croatian — Udar
  • Czech — puč
  • Norwegian — kupp
  • Polish — pucz
  • European Portuguese — golpe (de estado) 
  • Russian — удачный ход
  • Spanish — golpe 
  • Thai — รัฐประหาร
  • Danish — kup
  • French — coup d’État 
  • German — Putsch

Related Words You Should Know

To improve your overall understanding of the word coup, we want to leave you with a small homework assignment. Below, you’ll find a few related words — research each one and discover how it’s connected to our word of the day, coup:

  • Insurgency — an active revolt or uprising
  • Insurrection — a violent uprising against an authority
  • Military coup — a coup organized and carried out by members of the armed forces
  • Protest — a public expression of objection, dissent, or disapproval towards an action or idea, typically a political one
  • Riot — a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group of people lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority
  • Sedition — the act of encouraging rebellion against the government or an act that promotes rebellion, such as through writing or speech
  • Soft coup (AKA silent coup) — a coup without the use of violence 
  • Terrorism — the unlawful use of intimidation and violence in the pursuit of political aims
  • Treason — the offense of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance


The term coup may be small, but there’s no denying that it packs a big meaning. In short, our word of the day can be defined as the quick action of taking power or a surprise victory — especially the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government or authority by a small group.  


coup d’etat | Definition, Examples, & Facts | Britannica

military coup in a sentence : Sentence examples | Cambridge Dictionary 

Coup Definition & Meaning |