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From em- +‎ bold +‎ -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, p. 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.