Difference Between Courage and Bravery

Courage vs Bravery

If a man puts his own life in danger by going inside a burning building to save the life of a toddler, would you call it courage, or bravery? These are two words in English language that are most confusing, especially to those whose native language is not English. If one tries to look up dictionary for help, it is not forthcoming as it gives definitions that do not solve this confusion. This is why there are people who think that these two words are synonyms, and use them interchangeably. However, this is wrong and the difference between courage and bravery will be clear after reading this article.

Let me make the situation more complicating by throwing in a few more words like intrepid, bold, resolute, confident, fearlessness, etc. In fact, there are more words to describe this attribute of a person than his other virtues. Let us take the example of a kid not crying or even flinching, while getting vaccinated. Don’t you call him a brave boy? Which word do you use, to describe the quality of a man who confronts a lion in a jungle, when he is not even armed? Sheer courage, I presume. How do you differentiate between these two different acts of a kid being given an injection, and a man having the guts to engage a lion knowing he has no chance against the might of the lion.

There are many bravery awards that are distributed to people, who have shown exemplary courage in situations that were totally against them, or when they acted on an impulse to save others or themselves from imminent danger. Bravery and courage are acts of valor that reflect strength of character and a certain degree of intrepid behavior that is not common.

Courage comes from the French coeur that means heart. It is a quality that allows one to have control in diverse conditions, and to go on conquering fear in one’s mind. We all see, examples of physical courage when a soldier, despite being badly wounded, does not give up and completes the mission given to him. This courage, comes from inner conviction, and patriotism that makes him go on in the face of diversity. There is moral courage to own responsibility for an act that brings shame and abuse from others. However, one is prepared to tackle all opposition and shows courage by being honest to him.

Bravery has its roots in Spanish bravado. It means display of a singular act of valor. As against courage that is preplanned and premeditated, bravery just takes place and appears more to be a knee jerk reaction than a carefully thought out action.

If a man commits suicide, he of course shows courage to make a plan, and then even executes it, but would you ever consider his act as a brave act?

In brief:

Difference Between Courage and Bravery

• Bravery and courage have similar meanings, and are in fact used interchangeably by people

• However, bravery is more on the spur of the moment, and a knee jerk reaction than courage that is more premeditated and planned

• Courage has many underlying factors such as love, faithfulness, loyalty, honesty, patriotism etc

• Bravery is fearlessness in the face of adversity without a thought to danger to life.