au·​da·​cious | \ȯ-ˈdā-shəs \

Definition of audacious 

1a : 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

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Other Words from audacious

audaciously adverb
audaciousness noun

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").

Examples of audacious in a Sentence

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 Sayers, Commonweal, 13 July 2007 This is an audacious claim, and Kramer anticipates, even encourages, the controversy it might provoke. — Gary Greenberg, Harper's, August 2005 … 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. Swift, Sports Illustrated, 8 Aug. 2005 … 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 Gliberman, Entertainment Weekly, 20 July 2001 They have audacious plans for the new school. This is her most audacious film so far. She made an audacious decision to quit her job.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Fun, refreshing and faintly preposterous: Here’s a story to inspire audacious 4- to 9-year-olds. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales of Bravery and Brilliance," 8 Nov. 2018 Internal Senate sources depict a Senate minority on an audacious mission, rare use of the filibuster to keep a judicial nominee off the bench is only of the tip of the iceberg. Fox News, "Levin: Democrats and the judicial confirmation process," 24 Sep. 2018 By Tuesday, Thailand was jubilantly celebrating the rescue of all 13, an audacious undertaking that swelled national pride — but also gratitude and humility for an operation that was an international effort. George Styllis,, "From mission impossible to mission accomplished: Thailand rejoices as last boys rescued from cave," 11 July 2018 For many liberals, the decisions underscored their worst fears about the audacious Republican tactics in 2016 to block Obama’s more progressive nominee for the Supreme Court, Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. Elizabeth Dias And Sydney Ember,, "Abortion and travel ban rulings are victories for GOP tactics on Gorsuch," 27 June 2018 No, our President hadn’t tweeted anything audacious (in the past hour), rather the finale of The Bachelor was airing, and my feed was furious. Allison Winn Scotch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Time's Up on 'The Bachelor': Why I Quit and You Can Too (Guest Column)," 9 Mar. 2018 This goal, which once felt audacious in its optimism, is now what must be achieved by every city on the planet. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Cities have 15 months to reverse climate change, says new report," 8 Oct. 2018 As such, the Digital Illusions team discarded the more grounded stylings of contemporaries like Ridge Racer for a more audacious approach. Steven T. Wright, Ars Technica, "Life in (virtual) pit lane: The war stories of video game car design," 28 Apr. 2018 The goal sparked Switzerland into a more dominant position, as Shaqiri also came so close on grabbing the lead for his team with an audacious attempt that hit the edge of the bar. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "WATCH: Shaqiri, Xhaka Score as Switzerland Comes Back to Beat Serbia," 22 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of audacious

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for audacious

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

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Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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The first known use of audacious was in 1550

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English Language Learners Definition of audacious

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


au·​da·​cious | \ȯ-ˈdā-shəs \

Kids Definition of audacious

1 : very bold and daring : fearless an audacious scheme

2 : disrespectful of authority : insolent an audacious radio personality

Other Words from audacious

audaciously adverb

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Comments on audacious

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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