The Meaning of Cul de Sac: What It Is and How To Use It

What does the word cul de sac mean, and how can it be used literally and metaphorically? This article will cover the meaning of cul de sac.

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How do you use the word cul de sac? What is the origin of the word cul de sac? This article will cover what cul de sac means, how to use it, its etymology, translations, synonyms, and antonyms. 

If you are confused about what a cul de sac is, look no further than this article!

What Does the Word Cul de Sac Mean?

According to The Free Dictionary, cul de sac refers to the circular area at the end of a dead-end street. These are normally found in residential neighborhoods. The pronunciation of cul de sac is ˈkʊl de ˌsæk, and the plural of cul de sac is culs-de-sac.

The term cul de sac is also used in anatomy and medicine to refer to a sack-like cavity that is only open at one end as the cecum. A cul de sac only has an outlet in one direction and can put someone or something in an inescapable position. 

Less frequently, the term cul de sac can be used metaphorically to refer to someone who has backed themselves into a corner or dead end with no exit. A cul de sac looks like the bottom of a sack or bottom of a bag, which is why it is named as suc!

What Is the Origin of the Word Cul de Sac?

According to The Free Dictionary, the term cul de sac comes from the French cul de sac, which literally translates to the bottom of the sack. The term cul comes from Old French and the Latin cūlus, de comes from the Latin , and sac comes from the Latin saccus

How Can Cul de Sac Be Used in a Sentence?

The word cul de sac is most often used literally to describe a dead-end street in residential neighborhoods. However, the word cul de sac can also be used in a metaphorical sense. 

When you study the example sentences below, see if you can determine which of these uses are literal and which of these uses are metaphorical:

He backed himself into a cul de sac when he made inappropriate comments on Facebook and Twitter. Even though he deleted them, his followers took screenshots, and he had to answer them.

The military force was backed into a cul de sac by the opposing army. It spelled certain doom, but further progress was made to help their vessel escape against all odds. 

There was one random house at the end of the cul de sac, but no one else lived on the dead-end street. An odd man named Philip Weiss used to live there and told the children about language news and daily word facts to encourage a love of reading.

What Are Translations of Cul de Sac?

Nice Translator lists all of the ways that you can say the word cul de sac in world languages:

  • Polish: sac
  • Spanish: callejón sin salida
  • Thai: ก
  • Portuguese (Brazil): cull-de-sac
  • Arabic: كول
  • Ukrainian: кул-де-мішок
  • Bulgarian: канал
  • Serbian: кула
  • Kannada: ಕಲ್-ಡಿ-ಸ್ಯಾಕ್
  • Russian: кал-де-мешок
  • Korean: 막 다른 골드
  • Amharic: Cul- de-sac
  • Hindi: कल-डी-थैली
  • Hebrew: cul-de-sac
  • Dutch: cul-de-sac
  • Vietnamese: Cul-de-sac
  • Turkish: çıkmaz sokak
  • Bengali: কুল-ডি-স্যাক
  • Marathi: cul-de-sac
  • Norwegian: cul-de-sac
  • Czech: cul-de-vak
  • Icelandic: Cul-de-sac
  • Lithuanian: sėklos
  • Welsh: cul-de-sac
  • Japanese: 行き止まり
  • Swedish: återvändsgränd
  • Portuguese (Portugal): cull-de-sac
  • Latvian: cul-de-sac
  • Italian: cul-de-sac
  • Slovenian: cul-de-sac
  • Danish: blind vej
  • Romanian: culme
  • Slovak: cul-de-vak
  • German: Sackgasse
  • Hungarian: zacskó
  • Greek: σάκκος
  • Telugu: రొట్టె
  • Finnish: umpikuja
  • Indonesian: cul-de-sac
  • Estonian: cul-de-sac
  • Basque: cul-de-sac
  • Gujarati: ક્યુલ-દ-સાક
  • French: cul
  • Catalan: Cul-de-sac
  • Malay: cul-de-sac
  • Malayalam: കൽ-ഡി-സങ്ക്
  • Croatian: cul-de-vrećica

What Are Synonyms of the Word Cul de Sac?

The word cul de sac has many synonyms, some of which are literal and some of which are metaphorical. Power Thesaurus provides a long list of synonyms of cul de sac, which you can study to expand your vocabulary and learn how to say cul de sac in different ways.

  • adversity
  • arduousness
  • awkwardness
  • barricade
  • beating a dead horse
  • blank
  • blank wall
  • blind alley
  • blind gut
  • blind spot
  • block
  • blocked
  • boring routine
  • box
  • cessation
  • checkmate
  • circular turnaround
  • closed
  • corner
  • cul
  • dead stop
  • dead end
  • dead-end street
  • dead-lock
  • deadlock
  • draw
  • full stop
  • gridlock
  • habit
  • halt
  • hit a dead end
  • hole
  • hopeless situation
  • humdrum existence
  • impasse
  • impasses
  • inlet
  • logjam
  • lost cause
  • no through road
  • no-win situation
  • no-exit road
  • obstacle
  • obstructed
  • obstruction
  • predicament
  • puffin
  • rut
  • same old round
  • stalemate
  • stand-off
  • standoff
  • standstill
  • stop
  • stoppage
  • stumbling block
  • stymie
  • tubular cavity

What Are Antonyms of the Word Cul de Sac?

Power Thesaurus also lists many antonyms of cul de sac, which refer to streets that are not dead ends. If you are trying to talk about a type of street that does not stop, you can study this list of antonyms of cul de sac. 

  • alley
  • alleyway
  • arterial
  • artery
  • ave
  • avenue
  • blacktop
  • block
  • boardwalk
  • boulevard
  • boulevards
  • bypath
  • byroad
  • byway
  • carriageway
  • causeway
  • close
  • concourse
  • course
  • court
  • crescent
  • curb
  • drag
  • drive
  • driveway
  • expressway
  • footpath
  • freeway
  • highway
  • lane
  • lanes
  • main road
  • mews
  • parkway
  • passage
  • path
  • pathway
  • pavement
  • pike
  • place
  • road
  • roads
  • roadway
  • route
  • row
  • side road
  • side street
  • street
  • streets
  • superhighway
  • terrace
  • thoroughfare
  • through street
  • thruway
  • track
  • trail
  • turnpike
  • walk
  • way


The word cul de sac refers to a type of dead end street which is rounded at one end. This term can also be used metaphorically to refer to a non-physical dead end or impasse.


  1. Street synonyms – 535 Words and Phrases for Street | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Cul De Sac synonyms | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Cul-de-sac | The Free Dictionary 
  4. Cul-de-sac | Nice Translator