A coupure where the A2 motorway crosses the Diefdijk in the Netherlands.
A coupure with a shed for storing the materials used to close the coupure
For the prehistoric biological event, see Grande Coupure

A coupure is a means of closing an opening in a wall, floodwall or levee (dike). The word comes from the french verb couper which means to cut. In historic times a coupure was a location where a breach in the city walls or the walls of a fortress was closed. In more modern times a coupure is a way of allowing traffic to pass a flood protection structure.

Civil engineering

When a road or railway crosses a floodwall or levee the road or railway can either be laid on a grade or through a cut in the floodwall or levee. In case of expected flooding the cut can temporarily be closed. This type of coupure is also known as vehicle gate, floodwall gate or similar names. The closure can be accomplished by various means.

The most basic means of closing a coupure is with soil or sandbags. More sophisticated means of closing a coupure consist of wooden or metal beams or doors. Older coupures are usually brick built structures with provisions for placing two stacks of beams between them. Between the stacks of beams, which form two walls, horse manure or other animal faeces mixed with straw is dumped and compacted. This type of material swells when wet, thus providing additional waterproofing. Modern coupures can consist of only one wall and can be made watertight with the help of rubber flaps or other materials.


During a siege a coupure is a ditch or an earthenwork or wooden palisade built behind a breach in the walls of a fortress, or a city, made by the attacker's guns. Its purpose is to hinder and frustrate an attack made by the forlorn hope.

This was a strategy used many times by defenders of fortifications, for example, by the Irish defenders during the Siege of Clonmel (April - May 1650).

It can also be a passage through a glacis to create a sally port so that the defenders can launch a Sortie against the attackers.


Stephen Francis Wyley A Dictionary of Military Architecture Fortification and Fieldworks from the Iron Age to the Eighteenth Century, Drawings by Steven Lowe

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  • coupure — [ kupyr ] n. f. • 1850; copeure 1279; de couper 1 ♦ Blessure faite par un instrument tranchant. Coupure au doigt, au visage. ⇒ balafre, entaille, estafilade, incision, taillade. Se faire une coupure : se couper. « il se faisait des coupures aux… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • coupure — COUPURE. sub. fém. Séparation, division faite dans un corps continu par quelque chose de coupant et de tranchant. Une grande coupure. J ai une coupure au doigt. Il y a une coupure à cette étoffe, à ce cuir.Coupure, se dit en termes de Guerre, Des …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • coupure — Coupure, Incisio, Incisura, Incisus, huius incisus, Sectura, Scissura, Sectio. Coupure et incision, Diuisura. Par coupures et hachemens, Incisim …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Coupure — Cou*pure (k?? p?r ), n. [F., fr. couper to cut.] (Fort.) A passage cut through the glacis to facilitate sallies by the besieged. Wilhelm. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Coupure — (fr., spr. Kupühr, Fortific.), so v.w. Abschnitt …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Coupure — (franz., spr. kupǟr ), Einschnitt, Unterbrechung von Festungswerken und der Kommunikation in denselben behufs abschnittsweiser Verteidigung, findet sich in ältern Festungen. – Im Münzwesen und bei Wertpapieren heißt C. (Stückelung) die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Coupure — (frz., spr. kupühr), Einschnitt, Durchstich eines Weges, einer Straße, z.B. bei Befestigungen …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Coupure — (frz. Kupür), Durchstich …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • coupure — /koo pūrˈ/ noun 1. A cutting, incision 2. An entrenchment made by the besieged behind a breach (fortification) 3. The deletion of passages in a play, piece of music, etc ORIGIN: Fr couper to cut …   Useful english dictionary

  • COUPURE — s. f. Séparation, division faite dans un corps continu par quelque chose de coupant et de tranchant. Une grande coupure. J ai une coupure au doigt. Il y a une coupure à cette étoffe, à ce cuir. Cette coupure a été faite avec un canif.   Il se dit …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

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