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Difference Between Courage and Bravery

Difference Between Courage and Bravery

Courage and bravery – just another pair of English words that can be found side by side in a thesaurus entry. To most, these two words are mere synonyms that express fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, boldness; the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty and danger. However, to those who are more philosophically inclined, courage and bravery are two notably distinct nouns.

Bravery is the ability to confront pain, danger, or attempts of intimidation without any feeling of fear. It is strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he is indeed more powerful or lesser than what he is facing. Courage, on the other hand, is the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the eminent and unavoidable presence of fear. More than a quality, it is a state of mind driven by a cause that makes the struggle worth it. Unlike in the case of bravery, a person fueled by courage may feel inevitably small in the face of peril, pain, or problems. The essence of courage is not the feeling of being capable of overcoming obstacles, but rather the willful choice to fight regardless of the consequences and limitations.

Bravery is a quality that is, in and of itself, a means and an end all at once. Courage is merely a means; its end would be the cause that drives it. For instance, in the well-known biblical story of David and Goliath, the former battled with the latter and managed to outdo him. Despite the giant’s advantage in size, David was not afraid – thus, he was brave. In this case, David’s bravery becomes the essence of the story.

Difference Between Courage and Bravery-1

Conversely, in the unconventional cartoon series “Courage, the Cowardly Dog,” the protagonist pet dog named Courage speaks well for his name. He quivers at the sight of ghosts and aliens, but fear never stops him from fighting the monsters to save his precious yet ever so oblivious master, Muriel. In this context, courage alone does not become the essence of the act; instead, it is Courage’s love for and concern towards his master. With that in mind, we can say that one of the distinguishing factors between courage and bravery is the presence of a cause or motivation. While bravery can maintain its very essence without a cause, courage is always gripped by it – whether it is in the form of love, concern, compassion, devotion, or passion.

Another unique element that sets the two virtues apart is the presence or absence of mindfulness. Acts of bravery don’t necessarily require critical judgment. Most of the time, the quality becomes inherent due to family and societal values, and therefore effortlessly manifests itself as second nature. A brave person can eat a worm when told to, without putting much thought into reasons and consequences of their action. In contrast, courage is a result of a deep understanding of the matter; a courageous person truly understands what they’re getting themselves into and who or what they’re doing it for. For instance, a courageous man knows he might die if he enters a burning building to save his son. He shivers at the thought of burning to death, but proceeds anyway – because of the love he has for his child.


  1. Courage and bravery are generally considered to be synonyms.
  2. Philosophically, the two nouns differ in meaning. Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it.
  3. Courage entails a cause, most commonly love, passion, compassion, concern, etc. Bravery maintains its essence even without a cause.
  4. Courage is a result of mindfulness; it is one’s decision to fight despite one’s fears. Bravery is an inherent characteristic; it doesn’t involve much thinking and manifests itself as second nature in those who are brave.

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  1. I enjoyed this article. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Courage->bravery->fearless

    Fearless is self-explanatory. Bravery can be w/o fear, second nature; yet have cause/mindfulness.

  3. So beautifully written!!!! I tend to be a negative person so this was very inspiring! Good luck to you and keep up the great work!

  4. There has to be an overlap, I would see myself as brave over courageous, and if my mom was in danger I would fight for her no questions asked without any kind of deliberation or fear of repercussions… brevity but not courage, bravery that exceeds the definition. My extemporaneous self would always protect those that I love, turning bravery to courage or vice versa. I feel like I should have died a while long time ago, but didn’t because I haven’t told somebody else something they need to hear

    • I agree with you about there being a middle ground. While this is an excellent article, it fails to mention one key aspect of courage: you do not necessarily need to fear for yourself. Fearing for others can invoke courage. To use your example, when your mother is assaulted, you worry about her safety. This implies you feel fear not for yourself,but for her. This fear then manifests itself as a retaliation. You realize the danger to her and act in spite of it. This is where the courage comes into play. You consciously realize the danger, feel the fear, and act. If you were to be attacked with only yourself as the victim then acted without fear, you would merely be brave. I know you probably wont see this, but I hope my opinion helps enlighten yours.

  5. Thank you very much, i have really appreciated.

  6. This is breathtakingly wonderful.. keep up the good work!

  7. I enjoyed reading in this and applying each to my own experiences. Keep it coming, “I’ll be back!”

  8. Are online stuff like this fake?

  9. What are the sources of the definitions?

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