Bold Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

This is a complete guide to the word bold. Read here to see the meaning of bold, examples of the word in context, its history, and more.

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The word “bold” has quite a few definitions, and it can be difficult to know its specific meaning when you see the word out in the wild. Although “bold” won’t appear on many complex word of the day word lists, it’s still an important word to know.

Today, we’re going to walk through the definition, origin, synonyms, and antonyms of “bold” so that you can have clarity and understanding about it. Let’s get started. 

What’s the Definition of “Bold?” 

According to the Dictionary, there are quite a few definitions for bold. Some of them are distinctly different, and others have subtle differences. The word bold — pronounced bəʊld or boʊld — can have any of these meanings:

  • Fearless before danger, showing, or requiring a fearless daring spirit. This is the most commonly used definition of the word.  
  • Presumptuous, audacious, brash. You might describe somebody in this way who is being reckless or harsh. 
  • Sheer or steep. This is mostly used to describe a steep cliff or vertical front.
  • Intrepid or groundbreaking. This is often used to describe somebody who is forward-thinking and innovative. 
  • Standing out prominently. This can be used to describe bold colors or objects that catch your eye.
  • Rich or luscious. This is usually used to describe the flavor of a food, drink, or dessert. 
  • Being in boldface. This is another incredibly common definition, especially in the modern context, used to portray text with thicker, darker letters. It’s used to describe text in bold typeface, which looks like this.

Generally speaking, the word bold means having confidence or being prominent. There are several specific variations. If you’re unsure of the specific definition in a certain context, it can be difficult to understand the meaning of what is actually being said. 

What’s the History of the Word Bold?

As an adjective meaning brave or courageous, the word bold has been around for quite some time. In its current form, the word has been around at least since the 11th century CE. However, the word bold actually has a deep history that extends past the modern English language and goes all the way back to Old English. 

In Middle English, the term was actually the same spelling as it is currently. But in Old English, the term was spelled beald, but it generally had the same meaning as it does today.

The Old English beald is pronounced quite similarly to the Old High German pronunciation, where the term was spelled bald. Again, this carries the same meaning as it does today: courageous, adventurous, and fearless. 

It might also be related to the Old Norse ballr. Ballr means “stubborn,” so the definition isn’t perfect, but the two likely share ancestry.

The definition used as a noun to describe the typeface did not come around for another several centuries. The first known use of the word in this context is around the year 1871. In this context, bold is used as a shortened version of the word boldface

The word bold had come to mean visually striking, and the word face had come to gain the definition “form, or shape.” By fusing these two words together, the term boldface is used to describe a text with a bold face, or a striking and prominent shape. This term originated in about 1845 CE, and the shortened version to describe bold type came about a few decades later.

A Bold-Faced Lie

A common adaptation of the word bold is found in idioms, the most common being “bold-faced lie.” The term bold-faced describes a lie that is told shamelessly with a bold attitude. 

Some people might say that using this word is an error, and that the correct word is “bare-faced” or even “bald-faced.” Although bare-faced is the earliest version of the word, all three are technically correct uses, with the word bold-faced highlighting how audacious the lie and the liar are.

How Can I Use Bold in a Sentence?

As you now know, there are many definitions for the word bold, and some of them are quite similar. Here are some examples of bold used in context with each definition so you can get a better idea of how to properly use this word. 

The resilient hero’s bold actions caused him to be stranded, alone on a foreign shore.

The pilot’s daring and bold adventure was seemingly impossible.

The coach’s bold plan was focused on attacking and less on defense.

That child is bold for talking back to his parents with such impudence.

The bold cliffs towered over the fortified city, nestled safely at the base. 

Einstein’s bold thinking led to his discovery of the theory of relativity.

The BHEL architect’s bold design revolutionized modern construction.

Victoria’s style is incredibly stunning, with her bright colors, bold patterns, and eye-catching pieces.

On the New York runway, the model was sporting an incredibly bold look, complete with bright, showy colors and stunning visuals.

As you can see, I put all of the headings in bold handwriting to make them easier to see.

What Are Synonyms for Bold?

Here are some common synonyms for the word bold that you might find in a thesaurus.

  • Brave
  • Courageous
  • Brash 
  • Adventurous
  • Gutsy 
  • Boldface

What Are Other Grammatical Forms of the Word Bold? 

The word bold is the root word for many different descriptors. The adverb boldly can describe an intrepid action. You can use it comparatively with the words bolder or boldest. There are many different parts of English grammar that this word can seep into.

A Simple Word With Many Definitions

Now you know everything you need to know about the word bold. You were probably already familiar with the main definition, but now you have some other uses up your sleeve. Use it in your writing or in conversation. 

If you ever forget all of the different uses of the word bold, head back to this article to remind yourself. Now, go use bold throughout your writing and expand your vocabulary.  


  1. BOLD | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary 
  2. Bald-faced, boldfaced or barefaced? | World Wide Words 
  3. Bold Definition & Meaning |