cour·​age ˈkər-ij How to pronounce courage (audio)
: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
Choose the Right Synonym for courage

courage, mettle, spirit, resolution, tenacity mean mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship.

courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty.

the courage to support unpopular causes

mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience.

a challenge that will test your mettle

spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened.

her spirit was unbroken by failure

resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends.

the resolution of pioneer women

tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat.

held to their beliefs with great tenacity

Examples of courage in a Sentence

Eunice Kennedy Shriver … didn't buy into the propaganda of her day that women had to be soft and submissive. That took courage back then, because she grew up in a family that expected a lot from the boys and very little from the girls. Maria Shriver, Time, 26 Oct. 2009
Sometimes when I debate whether to risk my individuality or conform, the memory of my son's picture brings me courage. Sue Monk Kidd, Reader's Digest, August 1990
But as long as your courage holds out you may as well go right ahead making a fool of yourself. All brave men are fools. Robert Frost 17 Apr. 1915, in Selected Letters of Robert Frost1964
She has the courage to support unpopular causes. It takes courage to stand up for your rights.
Recent Examples on the Web The selection criteria emphasize: academic excellence; the energy to use one’s talents to the fullest; attributes such as truth, courage, kindness, and devotion to duty; and the moral force of character and instincts to lead. Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Nobody can deny the importance or the courage of Robinson or Satchel Paige or Willie Mays. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2023 The former Senator, who failed to win reelection in 2020, was in Omaha to speak about courage. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 10 Nov. 2023 Though, Link isn’t just courageous—as in, a person who, among other attributes, exhibits courage. WIRED, 9 Nov. 2023 The Mexican cast is led by star Eugenio Derbez, who also helped produce the film, which has strong themes of curiosity, perseverance, integrity and courage. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Everything changes when a mysterious letter arrives and fires up Delia’s courage to turn the tables on fate and start striving for a better life – and not just for herself. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 2 Nov. 2023 But throughout history, those who have changed the world in progressive, radical or even revolutionary ways did not have any more money, power, courage, intelligence or creativity than anyone watching tonight. Hattie Lindert, Pitchfork, 4 Nov. 2023 The response gives Olivia the courage to share details of Conner's death with PEOPLE. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English corage, from Anglo-French curage, from quer, coer heart, from Latin cor — more at heart

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of courage was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near courage

Cite this Entry

“Courage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


cour·​age ˈkər-ij How to pronounce courage (audio)
: strength of mind to carry on in spite of danger or difficulty

Middle English corage "the heart as a source of feelings, spirit, confidence," from early French curage (same meaning), from coer "heart," from Latin cor "heart" — related to cordial

More from Merriam-Webster on courage

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