The coup was ______ in this country by the United States.

It was indeed United States that ______ the coup in this country.

If the problems take a turn to the worse, then the army would ______ a coup.

I want a verb for the blanks. In the above contexts, the United States or the army are meant to be the main agency in doing the coup.

I thought about run/ran and set. Are these idiomatic suggestions? Any better suggestions?

  • 4
    Did the US actually carry out (stage, execute), or did they just "pull the strings" by manipulating others behind the scenes (sponsor, orchestrate)? Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 12:48
  • Please be more clear about what kind of situation you're asking about, because the accepted answer doesn't seem to suit the examples given in the question. Any word which can truly fill in any of the blanks given in the question can't mean that the United States actually sent people in to another country to overthrow the governing powers. That would be more like an invasion, not a coup. I'm not saying that coups can't be materially supported, provoked, sponsored, or otherwise influenced by a foreign power, but a coup is, by definition, inherently a domestic event.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 23:09
  • @Beanluc Question edited. When they plan the coup, and support it in all ways, including financially, then I believe they can be taken as the main agency behind it, and so "stage" seems to be the best option.
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 7:58
  • @Beanluc they are the main agency involved, indeed the only organizer of the coup. So "stage" seems to be the best option. No?
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 8:09

8 Answers 8


You stage a coup, like the documentary How to Stage a Coup.

  1. to produce or cause to happen for public view or public effect
    // stage a track meet
    // stage a hunger strike

(source: Merriam-Webster)

In cases like this, an NGram search is often helpful. (The * basically means "find the words most used at that position" and _VERB specifies you're only looking for verbs.) Here, we can see that stage is the most commonly used verb.

Of course, you do need to pay attention to what the words actually mean; other top hits like plan and attempt mean something else.

  • I didn't know about the search feature of NGram, that's cool. I wonder why the present tense "stage" has been declining recently.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 16:13
  • @Barmar: The present tense seems to have been most popular during the Cold War. Obviously, that's not conclusive evidence of anything, but it does seem rather congruous to me.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 16:44
  • This depends heavily on the context. In fact, while this would seem to be the right answer for example 3, it doesn't seem to be for the other two answers (because a coup is staged by a faction within a country, another country can't stage a coup, though it can definitely orchestrate one)
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 10:00

While the term stage in Glorfindel's answer is widely applicable, it implies primarily the planning and preparation for a coup and not necessarily success. Less common but used to refer specifically to the actions involved to carry out the plan is execute a coup, which does imply success.


  1. to carry out fully : put completely into effect
    // execute a command

In the case of your example, it's possible that a coup might be staged by the United States but executed by some local organization.

  • 4
    I've seen many synonyms of this, too: perform, pull off etc.
    – iono
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 22:09

Another possibility is to orchestrate a coup.

or‧ches‧trate /ˈɔːkəstreɪt $ ˈɔːr-/ verb [transitive]

  1. (written) to organize an important event or a complicated plan, especially secretly

Example: The riots were orchestrated by anti-government forces.

(Source: Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

  • This. Foreign powers don't "execute" or "stage" coups, though they might sponsor domestic actors who are the ones who actually do so, and they might even supply agents on the ground at varying levels of deniability. A regime change perpetrated directly by the foreign actors of a foreign power isn't a coup, it's an invasion.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 22:59
  • @Beanluc In that case, what is the best verb for such context in your view?
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 8:06
  • @Sasan "this", as in, this answer.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 19:29

"Mount" is an alternative to "stage"

stage/lead/mount a coup Macmillan Dictionary

stage/mount/launch a coup Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

to stage/mount a coup Oxford Learner's Dictionaries: English

It is considerably less common on Google Ngrams though.


What word to use there depends on what you want to say. The term "stage" implies that the entity in question actually performed the coup. For a outside party that has less of a direct role, there's "instigate"

: to goad or urge forward : PROVOKE


or "back"

: to support by material or moral assistance backing a candidate for governor —often used with up back up a friend in a fight



I believe coups are engineered.

  • 2
    Please add sources to your answer, so it can be a good reference/source for learners. Thank you!
    – shin
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 7:35

Foment - "instigate or stir up (an undesirable or violent sentiment or course of action)."


Depending upon your intended exact meaning, you could use "precipitate," "catalyze," or "encourage."

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