Audacity is an act of fearless daring or bravery; it is also the brave coping with pain or fear. Above these two, audacity also refers to deeds or saying lacking the basic understanding of properties and convention, a case of insolent heedlessness.
The word audacity, first dated to the 1500’s, stemmed from the Middle-Latin audacitas which later on derived audcis and audax merely meaning ‘boldness’. Audacious, an adjective, is first dated to the 1540’s and this one already draws upon the Middle-French meaning adding a negative sense to boldness and bravery, a sense of intrepidity. With the passage of 50 more years, English had also added its own sense to this word, a sense of shamelessness.
Why this word?
These days we no longer encounter the forgotten meaning of audacity, the positive meaning representing a hero, of any sort, who is able to bare pain and fear without showing it, a person willing to undertake any mission and task and complete it to the fullest.
Audacity also demonstrates the amazing linguistic derivational evolution to a words meaning; within less than a hundred years this word traveled through regions and languages that added new shades to its meaning, to the extent of losing its original sense.
How to use audacity?
Audacity is an extremely useful word, upon all its meanings. These days when we refer to a person or a deed as audacious, we mainly mean it to be a person or an act of chutzpah, a careless person paying no lip service to society’s conventions and norms to the feelings of others. By referring to a person as audacious we also mean that his acts do not follow a process of thought and by thus may, on many occasions, endanger him.
However, our children demonstrate audacity when they stumble or fall and bravely cope with their wound; they are also being audacious when they stand their ground, when they demand what is theirs. Danny is being audacious when he tells his 65 year-old grandmother that she is old, he is also being audacious when he begins a fight-over-nothing with a bigger boy. But he is also being audacious when he protects his rights, when he understands that there are things worth fighting for.