au·​da·​cious ȯ-ˈdā-shəs How to pronounce audacious (audio)
: intrepidly daring : adventurous
an audacious mountain climber
: recklessly bold : rash
an audacious maneuver
: contemptuous of law, religion, or decorum : insolent
an audacious maverick
: marked by originality and verve
audacious experiments
audaciously adverb
audaciousness noun

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Fortune favors the bold—or, as ancient Romans are known to have said, “audentes Fortuna iuvat.” Audentes here is the present participle of the Latin verb audēre, meaning “to dare,” a word that also led, via several etymological twists and turns through the centuries, to the English adjective audacious. When it first appeared in English in the mid-1500s, audacious meant “intrepidly daring,” a sense we still use today when we apply the word to various feats of derring-do and those who dare to do them. Since then it has developed several additional meanings, including the closely related “recklessly bold” and “marked by originality and verve,” as in “her audacious new album heralds the future of hip-hop.” Of course, with audacity (another audēre descendent) comes risk that fortune, despite the maxim, doesn’t always favor: as fungi foragers know, there are sagacious mushroomers, and audacious mushroomers, but there are no sagacious audacious mushroomers.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The gardens, frequently installed without property owners’ knowledge, can range from a few plants from legitimate medical marijuana patients to audacious whole-house grows by illicit cultivators. Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 His unique flamboyance was as audacious as the new nation. Ramin Ganeshram, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2024 There are new rooftop bars, historic hotels like the Brick Hotel that have been newly renovated and foodies can find audacious fine dining restaurants such as the Japanese restaurant Matsu. Carlos Rico, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Feb. 2024 Many of Israel’s greatest military triumphs have indeed come from audacious tactics such as the aerial bolt from the blue in 1967 and Sharon’s dash across the canal six years later. Shashank Joshi, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Over the past six months, Guatemalans have made an audacious gambit to take their government back. Quico Toro, The Atlantic, 15 Feb. 2024 Directed and written by Laura Chinn and partially based on her own life, Suncoast is set in the early 2000s and follows a teenager (Nico Parker) caring for her brother along with her audacious mother (Laura Linney). Helen Murphy, Vulture, 7 Feb. 2024 The rugged, mountainous terrain that Leonidas had used so well nearly 2,500 years earlier quickly drew the eyes of these audacious saboteurs. Myke Cole and Michael Livingston, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Feb. 2024 The upcoming Formula 1 season has yet to make it to the starting line, yet its most audacious development may already be upon us. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'audacious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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-, -āx, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance (probably going back to Indo-European *-eh2, noun ending + *-k-, suffixal formative) — more at avid

First Known Use

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of audacious was in 1550


Dictionary Entries Near audacious

Cite this Entry

“Audacious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


au·​da·​cious ȯ-ˈdā-shəs How to pronounce audacious (audio)
: very bold and daring : fearless
: showing a lack of proper respect
audaciously adverb
audaciousness noun

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