• audacity •
aw-dæs-i-tee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. Striking boldness or daring. 2. Boldness with total disregard for rules and conventions.
Notes: This word is the noun accompanying the adjective audacious, which comes with an adverb, audaciously. Keep in mind the odd spelling of the sound [sh]: whenever soft [c] appears before [i] or [e], this is often the case.
In Play: Audacity usually breaks some kind of convention: "I thought that putting a frog in the water cooler showed audacity but wasn't funny in the least." It can also be just extreme boldness, though: "I think it took quite a bit of audacity for Luke Warm to propose to Susan Liddy-Gates. She turned him down, of course."
Word History: Today's Good Word goes back to Latin audax ([audaks]), audacis "bold, daring", the noun from audere "to dare". Audere is an odd variant of avidere "to be eager", based on the adjective avidus "eager", the word which English borrowed as avid after dropping the irrelevant endings. Avidus is the adjective from avere "to long for, desire", a verb which also provided the noun avaritia "greed", which English, after French had polished it up, borrowed for its avarice. Latin avere is based on Proto-Italic awe- "to be eager", from PIE aue- "to like, demand", source also of Welsh ewyllys "will, choice, desire", Sanskrit avati "desires", and Armenian aviwn "lust". (We are happy that Kathleen McCune, now of Sweden had the audacity to suggest today's very interesting Good Word.)
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