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From bold +‎ em- -en.[1] Compare Middle English embold, inboldyssh.



embolden (third-person singular simple present emboldens, present participle emboldening, simple past and past participle emboldened)

  1. (transitive) To render (someone) bolder or more courageous.
    • 1942 July-August, “The Northern & Eastern Railway”, in Railway Magazine, page 209:
      About this time, the success of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway had emboldened people to think that it was necessary merely to invest in any proposed new line to be assured of at least a 10 per cent. return on their money.
    • 2020, William H. Greene, Econometric Analysis, Pearson, page 334:
      The author lamented that the power of techniques involving instrumental variables and natural experiments to uncover causal relationships had emboldened economists to venture into areas far from their traditional expertise [...].
  2. (transitive) To encourage, inspire, or motivate.
  3. (transitive, typography) To format text in boldface.
    Synonym: boldface
    • 2004, Jason Whittaker, The Cyberspace Handbook, page 216:
      In HTML, the tags <p></p> indicate paragraphs breaks, and we have included some basic text formatting: <em></em> for emphasis (typically italics), <u></u> for underline and <strong></strong> to embolden text.
    • 2012, Craig Grannell, Victor Sumner, Dionysios Synodinos, The Essential Guide to HTML5 and CSS3 Web Design, page 337:
      Embolden the company name. Balancewise, the company name could do with standing out more.



  1. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary (2007) states that embolden was formed by the simultaneous prefixing of en- (or in-) and suffixing of -en, which, by definition, constitutes circumfixation.