Word of the Day: embrace

embrace (verb, noun) /ɛmˈbreɪs/ LISTEN

To embrace means ‘to hug,’ ‘to take someone in your arms,’ or more generally, ‘to enclose or surround’ (though in these senses it is a bit formal). It also means ‘to accept or receive something with enthusiasm’ or ‘to adopt something important,’ such as a religion, set of values, or profession. Embrace also means ‘to include or contain.’ As a noun, an embrace is the act of hugging someone or the act of accepting or adopting something.

Example sentences

  • The two lovers ran to one another and embraced.
  • The gardens are embraced on every side by woods.
  • Helen had always wanted to travel, so she embraced the opportunity of working for an international company with offices all over the world.
  • Sam was never religious until he was in his 20s; he started talking to a priest one day and ended up embracing Catholicism.
  • This literature course embraces a wide variety of 19th-century novels.
  • The small child broke free of her grandmother's embrace and ran off to play.
  • Tony's embrace of socialist values came as a surprise to everyone who knew him.

Words often used with embrace

embrace the devil: try something you think you won’t like or don’t understand in an effort to learn to like or understand it.

Did you know?

Don’t confuse embrace with brace. Some native English speakers mistakenly use the expression embrace yourself instead of brace yourselfBrace yourself is an expression that literally means ‘to adopt a position likely to reduce the physical impact of something,’ like a crash in a plane or car, and it is often used figuratively to mean ‘gather your courage, ready yourself’ before facing a challenging situation or ordeal. So, if you were at work, you might tell your colleagues, “Brace yourselves; I just saw the boss on his way in and it looks like he’s in a really bad mood!” Of course, if you have to face something unpleasant, it might help to give yourself a hug, but really this is a mix-up between two similar sounding expressions.

In pop culture

The love song “Embraceable You” was sung by many of the 20th century’s most famous performers, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole.

Other forms

embracement (noun), embracer (noun), embraceable (adjective)


Embrace came into English in the early 14th century through Anglo-French, which adopted the Old French verb embracier (embrasser in Modern French), which meant ‘hold in the arms, enclose, covet, or cope with.’ It is formed with the prefix en-or em-, meaning ‘in,’ and brace or braz, meaning ‘arms,’ which comes from the Latin bracchium (plural brachia), also meaning ‘arms.’ The noun form, meaning ‘hug,’ first appeared in the late 16th century.

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