Definition of courage in US English:



  • 1The ability to do something that frightens one.

    ‘she called on all her courage to face the ordeal’
    • ‘Don't be afraid to change your mind, as concession is often an act of courage.’
    • ‘You're a man of true independent mind and spirit, a man of rare courage and honesty.’
    • ‘Where are the politicians who have the ability and the moral courage to grasp it?’
    • ‘Great acts of courage happen every day, but heroes and heroines often go unrecognised.’
    • ‘In a democratic society, moral courage is an essential ingredient of leadership.’
    • ‘It needed incredible skill and courage, but the squadron managed to breach two of the three dams.’
    • ‘He had been defeated once too often, and his resources of courage were almost exhausted.’
    • ‘Every instinct tells you to climb out of the pit and run but then training, pride and courage take over.’
    • ‘Yet, for all their courage and endurance, they are hopelessly divided in their aims.’
    • ‘To seek safety and protection in our country has taken courage and persistence.’
    • ‘Its heroes were men of courage and style who drove into the mouth of danger without flinching.’
    • ‘He was adored by his men, not least for his courage, chivalry and handsome appearance.’
    • ‘After all it takes a lot of courage and imagination to stand up to corporate bullies.’
    • ‘We might all hope we'd do the right thing if our courage were put to the test.’
    • ‘He's enraged but he can't help but admire her courage and her ability to stand up to him.’
    • ‘To describe him as a leader of courage and integrity is asking too much of a very sceptical British public.’
    • ‘It is chilling to think it needed such courage for one excellent officer to stand up to her colleagues.’
    • ‘The artistic director of a truly great company needs courage, intelligence and drive.’
    • ‘We also owe thanks to those political leaders who had the moral courage to respond.’
    • ‘That spirit of optimism and courage still beckons people across the world who want to come here.’
    1. 1.1 Strength in the face of pain or grief.
      ‘he fought his illness with great courage’
      • ‘That most shoulder this burden with little complaint says much for their courage and stoicism.’
      • ‘I love her honesty and her courage, and I know it's taken a great deal of both for her to write her story.’
      • ‘Then, drawing on every reserve of strength and courage, she drew the stinger forth.’
      • ‘She showed a great deal of courage and strength playing through such a painful injury.’
      • ‘Earl was such a shining example of courage and strength as he relied on his faith in the Lord.’
      • ‘What he was, was real and ordinary, but with extraordinary courage in the face of his fear and his pain.’
      • ‘The courage she has shown in the face of adversity has been just incredible.’
      • ‘That gives him the strength and courage to confront whatever evil may be awaiting him.’
      • ‘The parents of a teenage girl who died after battling a brain tumour for seven years have spoken of her courage.’
      • ‘It is only now that many of these have the freedom and the courage to make their pain known.’
      • ‘The courage of people who keep their love together till death do them part.’
      • ‘Her courage has won her the hospital's bravery award and a special place in the hearts of the nurses.’
      • ‘Your courage and determination in this time of turmoil gives us all strength!’
      • ‘Resisters showed enormous courage in the face of the atrocious torture used by the Nazis.’
      • ‘His courage in facing his illness was inspirational and his death must be a release for him and his family.’
      bravery, braveness, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valour, fearlessness, intrepidity, intrepidness, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness
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  • have the courage of one's convictions

    • Act on one's beliefs despite danger or disapproval.

      • ‘And good on you for having the courage of your convictions.’
      • ‘A lot of people have said we should have a trial run, but you have to have the courage of your convictions.’
      • ‘But never mind, he had the courage of his convictions and you can't knock people for their beliefs (but they feel it's OK for them to knock you because of them).’
      • ‘It means having the courage of our convictions.’
      • ‘To make these tactical decisions, however, requires having the courage of one's convictions to know what the benchmark for decision is.’
      • ‘Why is it so difficult to tell the truth, to have the courage of your convictions and stand up for what you believe?’
      • ‘Labour's problem, like that of the Tories, is all about having the courage of your convictions.’
      • ‘That way, no matter what happens, you can have the courage of your convictions and be yourself, which is the most important thing of all.’
      • ‘But have the courage of your convictions, stand your ground and say it as it is.’
      • ‘Now, please have the courage of your convictions and leave the country.’
  • pluck up (or screw up or take) courage

    • Make an effort to do something that frightens one.

      • ‘It takes courage and commitment to go trekking in the jungle of South America especially if you are afraid of spiders.’
      • ‘It takes courage to reach out to the enemy, to heal their hurt than to pull the trigger.’
      • ‘He sounded very sweet and down to earth so I eventually plucked up the courage to give him a call.’
      • ‘This was a life-affirming, emotionally and intellectually liberating message, and it took courage and conviction to be the messenger.’
      • ‘The necessary resolve takes courage and persistence, from police, parents and the wider community.’
      • ‘It takes courage and nerve to face down fundamentalism when it comes knocking.’
      • ‘Sometimes this takes courage, but it can also force the concerns publicly and to make change.’
      • ‘They eye me shyly from the doorway before plucking up the courage to come in.’
      • ‘This week he also intends to pluck up the courage to visit his home, which is fenced off for safety reasons.’
      • ‘She has to pluck up the courage to perform them at a songwriter's showcase if she is to have any hope at all of making it.’
      • ‘It took courage because it was a real scary time, y'know?’
      • ‘It takes courage and wisdom to make the best of an imperfect situation and accept the inevitable.’
      • ‘I admire her passion and courage, as let's face it, it takes courage for a woman to refuse to breed these days, but still, despite my ambition I can't imagine life without a child.’
      • ‘Credit is due to both for getting this far; it took courage.’
      be brave enough, have the courage, pluck up courage, take the risk
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  • take one's courage in both hands

    • Nerve oneself to do something that frightens one.

      • ‘When Corissa had composed herself, she took her courage in both hands and retrieved three of the Chronicles to take home with her.’
      • ‘Then, at the end of last year and at the age of 26, the Frenchwoman finally took her courage in both hands and won the Tour championships.’
      • ‘What's interesting here is that the whistleblowers take their courage in both hands and allow themselves to be named.’
      • ‘In the meantime it is up to the best of the rest to take their courage in both hands.’
      • ‘When will our MPs, sent to Parliament to represent the true interests of the people of the country, take their courage in both hands and vote to dispose of him?’
      • ‘Not ones to shy away from a challenge we took courage in both hands and came away with one of everything; one bag had pastries in it, the other bag had candied… erm… stuff.’


Middle English (denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings): from Old French corage, from Latin cor ‘heart’.