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Coup d'Etat

(French) means a state stroke, and the term is applied to one of those bold measures taken by Government to prevent a supposed or actual danger, as when a large body of men are arrested suddenly for fear they should overturn the Government.

The famous coup d'état, by which Louis Napoleon became possessed of absolute power, took place on December 2nd, 1851.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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