of the Day
Clue of the Month
clues: Coup d' _____; Somme state; French state; Pierre's state;
Coup target; South Dakota, to Pierre; Division politique; Nice
7 times a year
Washington Behind Egypt's Coup d'Etat?
coup d'état, or simply a coup, is the sudden overthrow of
a government through unconstitutional means by a part of the
state establishment that mostly replaces just the top power
figures. It may or may not be violent in nature. It is different
from a revolution, which is staged by a larger group and
radically changes the political system. The term is French for "a
(sudden) blow (or strike) to a state" (literally, coup, hit,
and état, state). The term coup can also be used in a
casual sense to mean a gain in advantage of one nation or entity
over another; e.g. an intelligence coup. By analogy, the term is
also applied to corporations, etc; e.g. a boardroom coup.
Caesar made a coup and was the victim of another coup.
the unsuccessful coup attempts of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920, and of
Adolf Hitler in 1923, the Swiss German word "Putsch"
(originally coined with the Züriputsch of 1839) is often
used also, even in French (such as the putsch of November 8, 1942
and the putsch of April 21, 1961, both in Algiers), while the
direct German translation is Staatsstreich.
a coup usually involves control of some active portion of the
military while neutralizing the remainder of a country's armed
services. This active group captures or expels leaders, seizes
physical control of important government offices, means of
communication, and the physical infrastructure, such as streets
and power plants. The coup succeeds if its opponents fail to
dislodge the plotters, allowing them to consolidate their
position, obtain the surrender or acquiescence of the populace
and surviving armed forces, and claim legitimacy.
typically use the power of the existing government for its own
takeover. As Edward Luttwak remarks in his Coup d'État: A
Practical Handbook: "A coup consists of the infiltration of
a small but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is
then used to displace the government from its control of the
remainder." In this sense, use of military or other
organized force is not the defining feature of a coup d'état.
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article "Coup d'état".