The verb is derived from Middle English embracen (“to clasp in one's arms, embrace; to reach out eagerly for, welcome; to enfold, entwine; to ensnare, entangle; to twist, wrap around; to gird, put on; to lace; to be in or put into bonds; to put a shield on the arm; to grasp (a shield or spear); to acquire, take hold of; to receive; to undertake; to affect, influence; to incite; to unlawfully influence a jury; to surround; to conceal, cover; to shelter; to protect; to comfort; to comprehend, understand”) [and other forms], from Old French embracer, embracier (“to kiss”) (modern French embrasser (“to kiss; (dated) to embrace, hug”)), from Late Latin *imbracchiāre, from Latin im- (variant of in- (prefix meaning ‘in, inside, within’)) + bracchia (plural of bracchium (“arm”), from Ancient Greek βρᾰχῑ́ων (brakhī́ōn, “upper arm; shoulder”), from βρᾰχῠ́ς (brakhús, “short”) (as the upper arm is shorter than the lower arm), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *mreǵʰ- (“short”)). The English word is analysable as em- + brace, and is cognate with Italian imbracciare (“to shoulder, take up; to grasp”), Occitan embrassar.
The noun is derived from the verb.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɛmˈbɹeɪs/, /ɪm-/
Audio (UK) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ɛmˈbɹeɪs/, /əm-/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Rhymes: -eɪs
- Hyphenation: em‧brace
- (transitive) To clasp (someone or each other) in the arms with affection; to take in the arms; to hug.
- 1576, Iohannes Caius [i.e., John Caius], “Dogges of a Course Kind Seruing for Many Necessary Uses, Called in Latine Canes Rustici, and First of the Shepherds Dogge, Called in Latine Canis Pastoralis”, in Abraham Fleming, transl., Of Englishe Dogges, the Diuersities, the Names, the Natures, and the Properties. […], imprinted at London: By [John Charlewood for] Rychard Johnes, […], OCLC 1121314616; republished London: Printed by A. Bradley, […], 1880, OCLC 669210085, page 31:
- There was no faynting faith in that Dogge, which when his Master by a mischaunce in hunting stumbled and fell toppling downe a deepe dytche beyng vnable to recouer of himselfe, the Dogge signifying his masters mishappe, reskue came, and he was hayled up by a rope, whom the Dogge seeying almost drawne up to the edge of the dytche, cheerefully saluted, leaping and skipping vpon his master as though he would haue imbraced hym, beying glad of his presence, whose longer absence he was lothe to lacke.
- 1644, J[ohn] M[ilton], chapter VI, in The Doctrine or Discipline of Divorce: […] in Two Books: […], 2nd edition, London: [s.n.], OCLC 868004604, book I, page 14:
- [...] Love, though not wholly blind, as Poets wrong him, yet having but one eye, as being born an Archer aiming, and that eye not the quickeſt in this dark region here below, which is not Loves proper ſphere, partly out of the ſimplicity, and credulity which is native to him, often deceiv'd, imbraces and comforts him with theſe obvious and ſuborned ſtriplings, as if they were his Mothers own Sons, for ſo he thinks them, while they ſuttly keep themſelves moſt on his blind ſide.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 772–774:
- Theſe lulld by Nightingales imbraceing ſlept, / And on thir naked limbs the flourie roof / Showrd Roſes, which the Morn, repair'd.
- 1686, [formerly attributed to Augustine of Hippo], “The Accusation of Man, and the Commendation and Praise of the Divine Mercy”, in [John Floyd], transl., The Meditations, Soliloquia, and Manual of the Glorious Doctor St. Augustine. Translated into English, London: Printed for Matthew Turner […], OCLC 221918224, page 6:
- Thou doſt reduce me when I err; thou ſtayeſt for me when I am dull; thou imbraceſt me when I return; thou teacheſt me when I am ignorant; [...]
- 1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, “Stave Two. The First of the Three Spirits.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 55746801, page 54:
- She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her.
- 1982, Lawrence Durrell, “Tu Duc Revisited”, in Constance: Or Solitary Practices: A Novel, London: Faber and Faber, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Viking Press, 1982, →ISBN, page 261:
- There was no ambiguity in her relief and enthusiasm; she went up to him in a somewhat irresolute fashion, as if about to put out her hand; but they embraced instead, and stood for a moment yoked thus, absurdly relieved and delighted by the other’s presence.
- 1990, J[ohn] M[axwell] Coetzee, chapter 1, in Age of Iron, London: Secker and Warburg, →ISBN, page 5; republished London: Penguin Books, 2015, →ISBN:
- We embrace to be embraced. We embrace our children to be folded in the arms of the future, to pass ourselves beyond death, to be transported. That is how it was when I embraced you, always.
- (transitive, figuratively) To seize (something) eagerly or with alacrity; to accept or take up with cordiality; to welcome.
- I wholeheartedly embrace the new legislation.
- 1557, unknown, “The Louer Refused of His Loue Imbraceth Death”, in Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey [et al.]; Edward Arber, editor, Tottel’s Miscellany. Songes and Sonettes […] (English Reprints; 24), London: [Edward Arber]; Muir & Paterson, printers, […], published 15 August 1870, OCLC 1083021568, page 168:
- The louer refused of his loue imbraceth death. [poem title]
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Hebrews 11:13, column 1:
- Theſe all died in faith, not hauing received the promiſes, but hauing ſeene them a farre off, and were perſwaded of them, and embraced them, and confeſſed that they were ſtrangers and pilgrims on the earth.
- 1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: […], London: Printed for Nath[aniel] Ponder […], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim’s Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, […], 1928, OCLC 5190338, page 164:
- Let Ignorance a little while now muſe / On what is ſaid, and let him not refuſe / Good counſel to imbrace, leſt he remain / Still Ignorant of what's the chiefeſt gain.
- a. 1705, John Locke, “Of the Conduct of the Understanding”, in Posthumous Works of Mr. John Locke: […], London: Printed by W. B. for A[ugustus] and J[ohn] Churchill […], published 1706, OCLC 1103142418, §34, page 105:
- [I]f a Man can be perſuaded and fully aſſur'd of any thing for a Truth, without having examin'd, what is there that he may not imbrace for Truth; and if he has given himſelf up to believe a Lye, what means is there left to recover one who can be aſſur'd without examining.
- 1953, James Baldwin, “Elizabeth’s Prayer”, in Go Tell It on the Mountain, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, OCLC 819638291; republished as Go Tell It on the Mountain (A Laurel Book), New York, N.Y.: Dell Publishing, December 1985, →ISBN, part 2, page 186:
- Then she thought how, now, she would embrace again the faith she had abandoned, and walk again in the light from which, with Richard, she had so far fled.
- (transitive, figuratively) To submit to; to undergo.
- Synonym: accept
- c. 1597, [William Shakespeare], The History of Henrie the Fovrth; […], quarto edition, London: Printed by P[eter] S[hort] for Andrew Wise, […], published 1598, OCLC 932916628, [Act V, scene v]:
- What I haue done my ſafety vrg'd me to: / And I embrace this fortune patiently, / Since not to be auoided it fals on me.
- 2020 April 22, Paul Stephen, “COVID-19: meet the railway heroes”, in Rail, page 40:
- Faced with the most significant public health crisis in a century, the population has largely embraced the strict but essential government instructions on social distancing that have been carefully designed to protect lives and to curb the spread of COVID-19.
- (transitive, also figuratively) To encircle; to enclose, to encompass.
- 1642, John Denham, “Coopers Hill”, in Poems and Translations, with the Sophy. […], 4th edition, Printed by T. W. for H[enry] Herringman and sold by Jacob Tonson […], and Thomas Bennet […], published 1703, OCLC 740856761, page 14:
- Low at his foot a ſpacious Plain is plac't, / Between the Mountain and the Stream embrac't: / Which ſhade and ſhelter from the Hill derives, / While the kind River Wealth and Beauty gives; [...]
- 1937, Robert Byron, “Gumbad-i-Kabus (200 ft.), April 24th”, in The Road to Oxiana, London: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 776568094, part V, page 228:
- But it was not this that conveyed the size of the steppe so much as the multiplicity of these nomadic encampments, cropping up wherever the eye rested, yet invariably separate by a mile or two from their neighbours. There were hundreds of them, and the sight, therefore, seemed to embrace hundreds of miles.
- (transitive, figuratively) To enfold, to include (ideas, principles, etc.); to encompass.
- Natural philosophy embraces many sciences.
- 1697, “The Second Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. […], London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, […], OCLC 403869432, lines 59–60, page 73:
- Not that my ſong, in ſuch a ſcanty ſpace, / So large a Subject fully can embrace: [...]
- 1961, Robert A[nson] Heinlein, chapter VIII, in Stranger in a Strange Land, New York, N.Y.: G[eorge] P[almer] Putnam’s Sons, OCLC 604321; Ace premium edition, New York, N.Y.: Ace, Penguin Random House, August 2018, →ISBN, part 1 (His Maculate Origin), page 59:
- The Man from Mars sat down again when Jill left. He did not pick up the picture book they had given him but simply waited in a fashion which may be described as "patient" only because human language does not embrace Martian attitudes.
- (transitive, obsolete, rare) To fasten on, as armour.
- (transitive, figuratively, obsolete) To accept (someone) as a friend; to accept (someone's) help gladly.
- c. 1608–1609, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene vii], page 25, column 1:
- He bears himſelfe more proudlier, / Euen to my perſon, then I thought he would / When firſt I did embrace him.
- (transitive, law, figuratively, obsolete) To attempt to influence (a court, jury, etc.) corruptly; to practise embracery.
- 1769, William Blackstone, “Of Offences against Public Justice”, in Commentaries on the Laws of England, book IV (Of Public Wrongs), Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, OCLC 65350522, paragraph 18, page 140:
- The puniſhment for the perſon embracing is by fine and impriſonment; and, for the juror ſo embraced, if it be by taking money, the puniſhment is (by divers ſtatutes of the reign of Edward III) perpetual infamy, impriſonment for a year, and forfeiture of the tenfold value.
|present tense||past tense|
|2nd-person singular||embrace, embracest*||embraced, embracedst*|
|3rd-person singular||embraces, embraceth*||embraced|
|* Archaic or obsolete.|
- imbrace (obsolete)
embrace (plural embraces)
- An act of putting arms around someone and bringing the person close to the chest; a hug.
- c. 1591–1595, [William Shakespeare], […] Romeo and Iuliet. […] (Second Quarto), London: Printed by Thomas Creede, for Cuthbert Burby, […], published 1599, OCLC 222309388, [Act V, scene iii]:
- [E]yes, looke your laſt, / Armes take your laſt embrace: and lips, O you / The doores of breath, ſeale with a righteous kiſſe / A dateleſſe bargain to ingroſſing death: [...]
- c. 1613–1616, Francis Beaumont; John Fletcher, “The Scornful Lady, a Comedy”, in Fifty Comedies and Tragedies. […], [part 1], London: Printed by J[ohn] Macock [and H. Hills], for John Martyn, Henry Herringman, and Richard Marriot, published 1679, OCLC 1015511273, Act III, scene i, page 72, column 1:
- That Gentleman I mean to make the model of my Fortunes, and in his chaſt imbraces keep alive the memory of my loſt lovely Loveleſe: he is ſomewhat like him too.
- 1817 December, [Jane Austen], chapter XIII, in Northanger Abbey; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [...] With a Biographical Notice of the Author. In Four Volumes, volume II, London: John Murray, […], 1818, OCLC 318384910, pages 269–270:
- [A] long and affectionate embrace supplied the place of language in bidding each other adieu; [...]
- 1907, Robert William Chambers, “His Own People”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326, page 15:
- [A] delighted shout from the children swung him toward the door again. His sister, Mrs. Gerard, stood there in carriage gown and sables, radiant with surprise. "Phil! You! Exactly like you, Philip, to come strolling in from the antipodes—dear fellow!" recovering from the fraternal embrace and holding both lapels of his coat in her gloved hands.
- (figuratively) An enclosure partially or fully surrounding someone or something.
- 1882, Bret Harte, “[Flip: A California Romance] Chapter II”, in Flip; and Found at Blazing Star, Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.: Houghton, Mifflin and Company […], OCLC 1525509, page 44:
- When he reached the ridge the outlying fog crept across the summit, caught him in its embrace, and wrapped him from her gaze.
- 1896, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “The Evil-looking Boatmen”, in The Island of Doctor Moreau (Heinemann’s Colonial Library of Popular Fiction; 52), London: William Heinemann, OCLC 892648905; republished as The Island of Doctor Moreau: A Possibility, New York, N.Y.: Stone & Kimball, 1896, OCLC 660486, page 48:
- We were now within the embrace of a broad bay flanked on either hand by a low promontory.
- (figuratively) Full acceptance (of something).
- 1932, William Faulkner, chapter 19, in Light in August, [New York, N.Y.]: Harrison Smith & Robert Haas, OCLC 644581344; republished London: Chatto & Windus, 1933, OCLC 154633965, pages 424–425:
- And it was the white blood which sent him to the minister, which rising in him for the last and final time, sent him against all reason and all reality, into the embrace of a chimera, a blind faith in something read in a printed Book.
- 1965, Muriel Spark, “The Passionate Pilgrims”, in The Mandelbaum Gate, London: Macmillan, OCLC 1071110887; The Mandelbaum Gate (A Borzoi Book), 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965, OCLC 266246, part 2, pages 293–294:
- It then occurred to Barbara, and recurred more strongly after she had learned of Ricky's marriage and her sale of the school in England, her eager embrace of Islam, and the total handing over of her lot to Joe Ramdez, that there had been no secret state of mind in Ricky.
- (figuratively) An act of enfolding or including.
- 1913 November, Rabindranath Tagore, “The Relation of the Individual to the Universe”, in Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company, OCLC 1114470, page 8:
- In India men are enjoined to be fully awake to the fact that they are in the closest relation to things around them, body and soul, and that they are to hail the morning sun, the flowing water, the fruitful earth, as the manifestation of the same living truth which holds them in its embrace.
- ^ “embrācen, v.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ “embrace, v.2”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1891; “embrace, v.” in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press.
- ^ Compare “† embrace, v.1”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1891; “embrace, v.3”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1891; “† embrace, v.4”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1891.
- ^ “embrace, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1891; “embrace, n.” in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press.
- First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
- Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
- Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
- Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of embrazar.