au·​da·​cious | \ ȯ-ˈdā-shəs How to pronounce audacious (audio) \

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 But the indictment was the first time a major law enforcement agency made the allegation, bolstering the hacking unit’s notoriety as one of the most audacious in the world. Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, "Prosecutors Charge Russian Intelligence Officers in Cyberattacks," 19 Oct. 2020 The argument put forward by Joe Henrich in his new book is audacious and surprising. Razib Khan, National Review, "The WEIRDest People in the World," 16 Sep. 2020 The missive was indeed audacious: not just a fan letter, of the kind that a world-renowned photographer like Soth might receive, but one that also sought to strike up an epistolary exchange. Chris Wiley, The New Yorker, "A Photographer and an Inmate Exchange Ways of Seeing," 13 Dec. 2020 The audacious heist reportedly injured two people and left banknotes strewn across the ground in the city of Criciúma. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Gunmen stage brazen bank heist, leaving Brazilian city locked down," 1 Dec. 2020 The audacious French filmmaker Bruno Dumont presents Joan of Arc (Jeanne) as more than a sequel to his 2017 Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. Armond White, National Review, "A Second Joan of Arc Film Challenges Us All," 20 Nov. 2020 Earther got in on the action, trying to determine whether the Green New Deal — the audacious plan to address climate change and the Just Transition with the same energy as FDR's New Deal — hurt its supporters, as some politicos predicted. Mark Olalde, USA TODAY, "Climate Point: Biden-Harris win sparks hope for climate action," 13 Nov. 2020 The Amendment was part of an audacious Republican plan to create a new—and, likely, Republican—Black electorate to counterbalance the white, mostly Democratic voting bloc in the South. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "What Black History Should Already Have Taught Us About the Fragility of American Democracy," 6 Nov. 2020 In the absence of blockbusters, small, audacious movies have popped up like mushrooms on a forest floor — signs of life amid the general decay, but fragile and too easily overlooked or trampled underfoot. New York Times, "How Much Do You Really Miss Going to the Movies?," 16 Oct. 2020

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

borrowed from Middle French audacieux, from audace "daring, recklessness" (borrowed from Latin audācia, from audāc-, audāx "daring, bold, excessively daring, reckless" + -ia -ia entry 1) + -ieux (-ious); audāx from audēre "to intend, dare, venture" (verbal derivative of avidus "ardent, eager, greedy") + -āc-, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance (probably going back to Indo-European *-eh2, noun ending + *-k-, suffixal formative) — more at avid

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The first known use of audacious was in 1550

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Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Audacious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for audacious


How to pronounce audacious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of audacious

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


au·​da·​cious | \ ȯ-ˈdā-shəs How to pronounce audacious (audio) \

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

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