em·​bold·​en im-ˈbōl-dən How to pronounce embolden (audio)
emboldened; emboldening; emboldens

transitive verb

: to impart boldness or courage to : to instill with boldness, courage, or resolution enough to overcome timidity or misgiving
Great leaders embolden the rest of us to rise to our highest potentialities, to be active, insistent and resolute in affirming our own sense of things.Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
… being near her twin did seem to embolden her, to loosen her tongue.John Updike
… other voices too timid to speak in class are often emboldened by the different and more protected role an online conversation provides.Richard A. Lanham
Choose the Right Synonym for embolden

encourage, inspirit, hearten, embolden mean to fill with courage or strength of purpose.

encourage suggests the raising of one's confidence especially by an external agency.

the teacher's praise encouraged the students to greater efforts

inspirit, somewhat literary, implies instilling life, energy, courage, or vigor into something.

patriots inspirited the people to resist

hearten implies the lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal.

a hospital patient heartened by good news

embolden implies the giving of courage sufficient to overcome timidity or reluctance.

emboldened by her first success, she tried an even more difficult climb

Examples of embolden in a Sentence

his poor showing in his first swim meet just emboldened him to train even harder
Recent Examples on the Web That would probably embolden the nationalist Vox, whose grave warnings about the destruction of Spain would seem legitimized. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 The Rochelle Porter Beauty decorative pillow collection combines Rochelle’s love for Scandinavian design emboldened with her signature use of color. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 15 Nov. 2023 Rune, emboldened by the appointment of Djokovic’s old coach Boris Becker, has pushed the irresistible force as much as anyone in the last fortnight. Tim Ellis, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 And the gains made by the strikes may embolden other Hollywood unions, or these same guilds in negotiations that will come up again in three years. Andrew Dalton and Krysta Fauria, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Nov. 2023 Basem Naim, the leader of Hamas’s international relations arm, told The Washington Post in an interview that the footage was shared on social media both to gain global attention and to embolden Hamas militants for the war ahead. Drew Harwell, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2023 Failure to defend justice and religious freedom will not only embolden an expansionist regime but also risk instability in Asia and Buddhist countries, with ramifications for both the global south and global north. Lobsang Sangay, Foreign Affairs, 6 Nov. 2023 Third, Israeli security is an essential aim, but one that was not achieved through Israel’s principles of the last 16 years—a higher wall; emboldening a repressive, violent regime; and no political horizon. Dahlia Scheindlin, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023 The agreements could embolden other unions to take aggressive approaches to contract negotiations and fuel more strikes in coming months—as long as the economy stays strong. David Harrison, WSJ, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of embolden was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near embolden

Cite this Entry

“Embolden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embolden. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


em·​bold·​en im-ˈbōl-dən How to pronounce embolden (audio)
: to make bold

More from Merriam-Webster on embolden

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