coup de main or coups de main

French expression which literally means "stroke of the hand"; coup stroke , de  of , main hand. In English it means a surprise action, usually to take the initiative away from an enemy or opponent. Especially used as a military term, but not exclusively so. In Oxford English Dictonary since 1758

Example: "In a coup de main, DMan's account was frozen and his most aggressive nodes deleted."

This is an entry in the mini series about French idioms in the English language.
This particular expression has a second interpretation for both the French and the Quebecois. It is essentially the translation of 'a helping hand.' An example of its use is:

"Peut-tu me donner un coup de main avec ce fauteuil?"

which means, "Could you lend me a helping hand with this sofa?"

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