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]] Courage, also known as bravery, will, intrepidity, and fortitude, is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk/danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. "Physical courage" is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, or threat of death, while "moral courage" is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.


Discussion in religions

The Tao Te Ching states that courage is derived from love (" loving causes ability brave") and explains: "One of courage, with audacity, will kill. One of courage, but gentle, spares life. From these two kinds of courage arise harm and benefit."[1][2]

In Roman Catholicism, courage is referred to as "Fortitude"[3] as one of the four cardinal virtues, along with prudence, justice, and temperance. ("Cardinal" in this sense means "pivotal"; it is one of the four cardinal virtues because to possess any virtue, a person must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty.) In both Catholicism and Anglicanism, courage is also one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Discussion in philosophy

As a virtue, courage is discussed extensively in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, where its vice of deficiency is cowardice and its vice of excess are recklessness.[4]

Søren Kierkegaard opposed courage to angst, while Paul Tillich opposed an existential courage to be to non-being, fundamentally equating it with religion:

"Courage is the self-affirmation of being in spite of the fact of non-being. It is the act of the individual self in taking the anxiety of non-being upon itself by affirm­ing itself ... in the anxiety of guilt and condemnation. ... every courage to be has openly or covertly a religious root. For religion is the state of being grasped by the power of being itself."[5]

Courage (Shauriya), Patience(Dhairya) appears as the first of ten characteristics (Laxana) of religion (Dharma)in Manusmruti the Hindu scripture,remaining characteristics being forgiveness (Kshama), tolerance (Dama), not to steal (Asthaya), control of senses (Indriy Nigraha), Cleanliness (Shouchya), intelligence (Dhi), knowledge (Vidhya), truth (Satya), and not to get angry (Akrodh). In Islam, courage is seen as an important attribute to combat evil like the Prophet and to make the sacrifice required. To stand up to evil like the Prophet said and defend the brothers and sisters. There are as it says only three types of Muslims; one who stops evil physically, one who stops it verbally with less courage and one who does nothing but despises his cowardice. It proves that courage ultimately makes a good Muslim

Discussion in literature

J.R.R. Tolkien identified in his 1936 lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" a "Northern 'theory of courage'"—the heroic or "virtuous pagan" insistence to do the right thing even in the face of certain defeat without promise of reward or salvation:

It is the strength of the northern mythological imagination that it faced this problem, put the monsters in the centre, gave them victory but no honour, and found a potent and terrible solution in naked will and courage. 'As a working theory absolutely impregnable.' So potent is it, that while the older southern imagination has faded forever into literary ornament, the northern has power, as it were, to revive its spirit even in our own times. It can work, as it did even with the goðlauss Viking, without gods: martial heroism as its own end.[6]

Virtuous pagan heroism or courage in this sense is "trusting in your own strength," as observed by Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology,

Men who, turning away in utter disgust and doubt from the heathen faith, placed their reliance on their own strength and virtue. Thus in the Sôlar lioð 17 we read of Vêbogi and Râdey â sik þau trûðu, "in themselves they trusted"[7]

Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as "grace under pressure."[8]

Civil courage

Civil courage (sometimes also referred to as "Social courage") is defined by many different standards. In general, the term is usually referred to when civilians stand up against something that is deemed unjust and evil, knowing that the consequences of their action might lead to their death, injury or some other form of significant harm.

In some countries (e.g. Brazil, France and Germany) civil courage is enforced by law; this means that if a crime is committed in public, the public is obliged to act, either by alerting the authorities, or by intervening in the conflict. If the crime is committed in a private environment, those who witness the crime must either report it to the authorities or attempt to stop it.


Its accompanying animal is the lion. Often, Fortitude is depicted as having tamed the ferocious lion. Cf. e.g. the Tarot trump called Strength. It is sometimes seen as a depiction of the Catholic Church's triumph over sin. It also is a symbol in some cultures as a savior of the people who live in a community with sin and a corrupt church or religious body.

See also


  1. ^ Chapter 67 and 73, Tao Te Ching (C. Ganson uses the word "courage", but the Mitchell translation does not.)
  2. ^ - Tao Te Ching with Hanzi translations
  3. ^
  4. ^ Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 1103b15-20, 1104a15-25, 1104b1-10, 1107a30-1107b5, 1108b15-35, 1109a5-15, 1115a5-1117b25, 1129b20-5, 1137a20-5, 1144b5-10, 1167a20, 1177a30-b1, 1178a10-5, 1178a30-5, 1178b10-5, in Aristotle, Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, Broadie, Sarah, & Rowe, C., Oxford University Press, 2002.
  5. ^ Paul Tillich, The Courage To Be (London: Collins, 1952), 152-183.
  6. ^ Tolkien, JRR. "BEOWULF: THE MONSTERS AND THE CRITICS". The Tolkien Estate. 25.$B.%20Old%20English%20Tales%20and%20Literary%20Works%5BSection%5D/8$The%20Monsters%20And%20The%20Critics%5BBook%5D/1$Beowulf..%20The%20Monsters%20and%20the%20Critics%5BChapter%5D/0025.htm. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. 
  7. ^ Grimm, Jacob (1835) (in German). Deutsche Mythologie (Teutonic Mythology) (1 ed.). Dieterich: Göttingen. 
  8. ^ Carter, Richard. "Celebrating Ernest Hemingway's Century". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved on 2009-06-19. 



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Courage



Wikipedia Wikipedia


From Old French corage (French: courage), from Latin cor, “heart”.





courage (uncountable)

  1. The quality of a confident character not to be afraid or intimidated easily but without being incautious or inconsiderate.
    "A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. The ability to do things which one finds frightening.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it." -Mark Twain

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also




courage m. (plural courages)

  1. courage

Related terms

Simple English

A person has courage if he does something even though he is afraid. Courage can be doing things that other people think should be scary. A person has courage if he puts himself in danger to save another person. If someone has courage, it is said that they are courageous, standing up for what you believe in.

For example, someone may be said to have courage if they fight a lion, or save a baby from a burning building.

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