Audacious

Dunno123

Senior Member
Slovak
Hello. I'd be happy to hear your opinion on this. According to the Oxford Dictionary, this word ("audacious") has two meanings/connotations <-----Word in question added by moderator----->

1. Showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks
2. Showing an impudent lack of respect

The first definition sounds rather positive/approving, while the second one is negative/disapproving. I'm wondering which usage is more common. For example, if you heard this word used without any other context, as in "He is an audacious man.", would you understand it in the positive or negative way?

Thank you for your answers, I appreciate it a lot.
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I wouldn't take it either way. I'd ask whoever said it, "What do you mean?"

    Usually the word is used within a context in which the meaning is clear, for example: "He volunteered to sing the national anthem at the school assembly, even though he had never sung in public before—a truly audacious act."
     
    I see that our WR dictionary does in fact give a second meaning "showing an impudent lack of respect," but to be honest, I've never heard, seen, read, or understood it in that meaning, so am surprised to see it listed as such.o_O I have a feeling--just that, with zero evidence to back it up--that it may be archaic or extremely uncommon.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    As the posters above say, it depends on the context. If you call something "an audacious lie", you probably disapprove of it. If you call something "an audacious plan to make the city great", you probably approve of it.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I have a feeling--just that, with zero evidence to back it up--that it may be archaic or extremely uncommon.
    Maybe it's not in everyone's active vocabulary, but I've heard and seen it often enough with that meaning that I certainly wouldn't call it archaic or extremely uncommon. It's perhaps more common as a noun: "He had the audacity to suggest that I was wrong!"

    Ws
     

    Winstanley808

    Banned
    English - U.S.
    A separate definition of "Showing an impudent lack of respect" is not necessarily necessary. Showing a lack of respect is "audacious" if respect is expected and some penalty can be exacted for failing to show it, even if the penalty is only social disapproval. If the penalty is not regarded as serious by the person failing to show respect, the failure of respect might still seem "audacious"—"Showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks"—to observers who would not want to risk the penalty themselves.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    A separate definition of "Showing an impudent lack of respect" is not necessarily necessary.
    If I understand your scenario correctly, my fellow Ws
    ...

    X makes a disrespectful remark. Y says "That was an audacious remark!"

    But now we have two possibilities:
    - Y means "That was bold. I wouldn't dare to make such a remark myself." (Y is fearful of what others might think of him.)
    - Y means "I find that remark impudently disrespectful." (Y is indignantly critical of X.)

    Now Z has overheard Y's retort, but doesn't know the meaning of "audacious". So he looks it up in a dictionary. If he doesn't find both definitions, he may misconstrue what was behind Y's remark. If he does see both definitions, he can probably match the appropriate one to the tone used by Y.

    Ws
     
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