13 Admirable Words To Use Instead Of “Bravery” Or “Courage”

In the years since the Civil War, the United States has recognized Memorial Day, a national holiday to honor American soldiers who have died in military service. The last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. The people who died for the country were not only brave and courageous. They were also intrepid, stalwart, and valiant. To

learn more about these terms and other synonyms for the adjective brave or its noun form bravery, read on.


Valor is a noun meaning “boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle.” In other words, it is used particularly in reference to military bravery. (In British English, valor is spelled with a –u-, as in valour.) For example:


  • Captain Kelly showed great valor by leading the charge onto the battlefield, so she was awarded a medal.

The adjectival form of valor is valorous, or valourous. For example,


  • Alice became the town hero for her valorous act of saving a dog that fell into the rapids.

The expression stolen valor is used to describe lying about having served in the military or about the nature of one’s military service. Stolen valor is not only disrespectful, in some instances it may also be illegal.


Valor can be demonstrated at any rank in the military. How familiar are you with the order of military rankings, including corporals, generals, and more?


Valiant is a word related to valor that is another synonym for brave. These two words ultimately come from the same Latin verb valēre, meaning “to be worth.” Valiant is an adjective that means “boldly courageous” or “heroic.” Like valorous, it is used to describe bravery, especially in battle.


  • The valiant knight fought off the fearsome dragon and saved the town.

The adverbial form of valiant is valiantly, as in,


  • Major Caldwell valiantly refused to surrender until the bitter end of the battle.


One aspect of bravery or courage is fortitude, meaning “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.” Surviving extreme weather conditions, summiting mountains, or completing a task against all odds are all examples of demonstrating fortitude.


  • Clara was admired for her fortitude for single-handedly saving the health clinic after the funding was cut.

The word fortitude ultimately comes from the Latin fortitūdō, meaning “strength, firmness, courage”—all traits that continue to define fortitude.


Another way to describe the strength that bravery requires is by using the term stalwart. In some instances, stalwart means “strongly and stoutly built.” However, a secondary meaning of stalwart is “strong and brave; valiant.” Here’s an example:


  • Our stalwart troops were unafraid of hand-to-hand combat on the field.

The word stalwart comes from the Old English stǣlwirthe, meaning “serviceable.” Clearly, it has come to mean something a lot more important in the centuries since.


Along with stalwart, mettle is a centuries-old term. Mettle is a noun meaning “courage or fortitude.” (Another meaning is “disposition or temperament.”) Typically, it’s used in expressions such as having mettle or showing mettle, meaning “to demonstrate courage.”


  • The trainees were eager to show their mettle on the obstacle course.

The related expression to test one’s mettle means “to see if one has courage.”


  • We underestimated how much the harsh conditions of the desert would test our mettle.


Besides strength, another important aspect of bravery is a sense of adventure. The word that sums this up is intrepid, an adjective meaning “resolutely fearless; dauntless.”


  • The intrepid explorers were eager to set off for their trip down the river into uncharted territory.

Intrepid comes from the Latin intrepidus which means roughly “not anxious.” That’s one way to describe courage.


A synonym for intrepid is the adjective undaunted, meaning “undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort” or “undiminished in courage or valor.” In other words, someone who is undaunted does not let obstacles get in the way of accomplishing their goals.


  • Even after picketing for weeks in the rain, the miners were undaunted in their efforts to form a union.

One of the earliest uses for undaunted was to describe untamed horses. Later, it also came to be used as a synonym for unbridled. Both of these uses are now obsolete, but they give you a sense of the meaning of the word today.


Another animal-themed term meaning “brave” is lionhearted. Lionhearted is an adjective meaning “exceptionally courageous or brave.” For example:


  • With lionhearted determination, the team worked night and day on the perilous rescue effort.

Lionhearted is an old expression. In fact, King Richard I of England (1157–1199) was known as Richard Coeur de Lion or Richard the Lion-Hearted for his bravery in military battles.


A slightly more scrappy form of bravery is pluck. You are likely familiar with pluck as a verb meaning “to pull off,” but it has other meanings. Pluck is a noun meaning “courage or resolution in the face of difficulties.” The term pluck in this sense is thought to originally come from boxing slang (where this kind of toughness is important!).


  • Our business is looking for associates with a can-do attitude and a lot of pluck who are able to close deals.

The term pluck, along with the next couple of terms we will look at, gives us a casual way to talk about bravery and courage.


Our next synonym for brave is a visceral one. The plural noun guts literally refers to “bowels or entrails”—in other words, intestines. Figuratively, though, guts means “courage and fortitude; nerve; determination; stamina.” In other words, if you have guts, you are brave and decisive.


  • It took real guts to stand up to the boss like that, Jake.

The informal adjective that comes from this expression is gutsy, as in


  • The quarterback made a gutsy play and it paid off with a touchdown.


A term that often gets paired with guts is grit. Grit is a noun that literally means “abrasive particles or granules,” like sand. But figuratively, grit means “firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck.” It’s often used to describe the ability to overcome obstacles despite the odds.


  • I was determined to show that I had the grit and determination required to make the varsity team.

Similar to the terms guts and gutsy, the adjectival form of grit is gritty, as in


  • He had a reputation as a tough and gritty player who was willing to leave it all on the field.

Like pluck and guts, grit is an informal term, so keep that in mind when using it. These terms may not be appropriate for situations that call for a more formal register.


One of the most respectful synonyms for bravery is heroism, a noun meaning “the qualities or attributes of a hero or heroine” or “courageous action.” An example of an act of heroism is giving one’s own life to save another’s.


  • The service dog demonstrated heroism by warning the neighbors when his owner collapsed.

Describing acts of courage or bravery as heroism is one of the highest compliments one can give.


Everyone strives to be the hero of their own story, but when it comes to stories themselves, do you know the difference between hero and protagonist?


So far, we have covered adjectives and nouns that are synonyms for brave and bravery. But the word brave can be used as a verb, too. As a verb, brave means “to meet or face courageously.”


  • I braved rain, sleet, and hail to reach the summit by dawn.

A synonym for this meaning of brave is endure, “to hold out against” or “to bear with patience.” For example:


  • We can endure these hardships until someone comes to save us.

We have covered many aspects of bravery and courage here, but there are others we haven’t yet touched on. You can find more synonyms for bravery and courage at our entries for these terms.


Celebrate the achievements of a loved one with superior synonyms for “Good job!” 

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