Intermediate+ Word of the Day: bold

bold (adjective) /boʊld/ LISTEN

I love using jewelry and nail polish with bold colors.

Bold has many different meanings. It can refer to someone who is brave and not afraid of danger, or it can be a brave action, but it can also refer to someone or something impudent and showing lack of respect. It also refers to something creative and inventive and to something bright, or showy in some way.

Example sentences

  • Ellen was a bold child and was always ready to try anything.
  • In a bold move, the company started a program to employ people who had been in jail to help rehabilitate them.
  • The teacher was shocked by how bold the child was; he had no respect for authority.
  • Fiona's bold gesture told the other driver exactly what she thought of him.
  • The negotiators came up with a bold solution to the problem.
  • Leon loves to wear bold colors, like bright reds and blues.

Words often used with bold

be (so) bold (as to do something):  presume or dare to do something that may be inappropriate. Example: “If I may be so bold, your daughter is by far the most beautiful woman at the party tonight!” “The prince was so bold as to ask the princess to dance, even though it was clear that she detested him.”

In pop culture

The Bold and the Beautiful is an American soap opera (that’s a kind of long-running TV drama about a particular group of characters). You can see a clip from the show here:

Did you know?

Bold is also a kind of type seen in computers and print that darkens and thickens the letters to add emphasis, like this. We can also call this kind of type boldface.


Bold dates back to before the year 1000, as the Old English adjective beald or bald (Middle English bald or bold), which meant ‘brave,’ ‘confident,’ ‘strong’ or ‘stout of heart.’ It can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic balthaz and the Proto-Indo-European root bhel– (to blow or swell). Bold is related to the Old High German bald (bold or swift), the Gothic balþei or balthei (boldness), the Old Norse ballr (frightful or dangerous), the Old French and Provençal baut (bold) and the Italian baldo (bold, daring or fearless), as well as the Greek phyllon (leaf), the Latin flos (flower), florere (to blossom or flourish) and folium (leaf), the Old Prussian balsinis (cushion), the Old Irish bolgaim (I swell), blath (blossom or flower) and bolg (bag), the Serbian buljiti (to stare or be bug-eyed) and the Serbo-Croatian blazina (pillow). It is also related to many English words, including bale, ball, balloon, ballot, boulder, bowl, bulk, bull, folly and fool, as well as names such as Archibald and Leopold. The (negative) sense ‘audacious, presumptuous or overstepping bounds’ was first used in the late 12th century, while ‘requiring or exhibiting courage’ dates back to the mid-13th century. It has been used to describe something visual as ‘standing out’ or ‘striking the eye’ since the mid-17th century, and for flavors since the early 19th century.

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