adjective au·da·cious \ ȯ-ˈdā-shəs \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of audacious

1 a : intrepidly daring : adventurous
  • an audacious mountain climber
b : recklessly bold : rash
  • an audacious maneuver
2 : contemptuous of law, religion, or decorum : insolent
  • an audacious maverick
3 : marked by originality and verve
  • audacious experiments





audacious was our Word of the Day on 01/14/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of audacious in a Sentence

  1. Whatever made him think his audacious fiction would sell—especially after a lifetime of literary marginalization—is a mystery, but he has certainly been vindicated. With a rush of work that he did not begin publishing until he was in his forties, he won literary fame in Europe and Latin America. —Valerie SayersCommonweal13 July 2007
  2. This is an audacious claim, and Kramer anticipates, even encourages, the controversy it might provoke. —Gary GreenbergHarper'sAugust 2005
  3. … Morgan Pressel, the top-ranked female amateur in the country, has charted a less audacious course. A 17-year-old scrapper who gained prominence by tying for second at the U.S. Women's Open in June, Pressel is satisfied with taking on and whipping her own kind. —E. M. SwiftSports Illustrated8 Aug. 2005
  4. … he owns and operates a seductively spacious jazz club. But that's his day job, his cover. He executes his audacious midnight burglaries outside of the city, working solo, mapping out every detail so that nothing can go wrong, then returning like a phantom. —Owen GlibermanEntertainment Weekly20 July 2001
  5. They have audacious plans for the new school.

  6. This is her most audacious film so far.

  7. She made an audacious decision to quit her job.

Recent Examples of audacious from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'audacious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Shakespeare used "audacious" seven times in his plays. That in itself wasn't exactly an act of bold originality. The word, which comes from the Latin root audac- ("bold"), had been around for decades. But the Bard was the first to use "audacious" in its "insolent" sense ("Obey, audacious traitor; kneel for grace," Henry VI Part 2), and he may have been the first to use the adverb "audaciously." "Audacious" itself was something of an innovation in the 16th century: it was one of the earliest "-acious" words in English. Subsequently, we've added lots of "-acious" adjectives to our lexicon, including "pugnacious," "loquacious," "voracious," and even, in the 19th century, "bodacious" (which is most likely a combination of "bold" and "audacious").

Origin and Etymology of audacious

Middle French audacieux, from audace boldness, from Latin audacia, from audac-, audax bold, from audēre to dare, from avidus eager — more at avid

AUDACIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of audacious for English Language Learners

  • : very confident and daring : very bold and surprising or shocking

AUDACIOUS Defined for Kids


adjective au·da·cious \ ȯ-ˈdā-shəs \

Definition of audacious for Students

1 : very bold and daring : fearless
  • an audacious scheme
2 : disrespectful of authority : insolent
  • an audacious radio personality



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up audacious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


resembling the blue of the sky

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!