Printable Version
Pronunciation: brah-vo or brah-vo Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection, Noun

Meaning: 1. (Interjection) Capital! Excellent! Well done! Spoken or shouted to indicate an outstanding performance. 2. (Noun) The act of saying or shouting, "Bravo!"

Notes: Since this word is an interjection, it has no derivational relatives. When a mere bravo! does not suffice, we may use the Italian superlative: bravissimo!. If the performance is by a woman alone, some of my friends like to use the Italian feminine form of this word: brava; I've never heard the plural, bravi, for more than one performer. Bravo is also used in telecommunications to clarify the letter "B" when spelling words.

In Play: This word is most often heard in concert halls and theaters, but we also use it outside these venues: "I say, 'Bravo!' to Noah Zarque just for showing up at the gym every day." The same applies for its service as a noun: "All the bravos for doing her job have sent Sue Persillius up into the clouds, where she is unapproachable."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the Italian bravo "brave, bold", which originally meant "wild, savage", a sense it retains in Portuguese and Spanish. It is a word of uncertain origin. English borrowed the French version, brave, with its sense of "courageous". The most obvious derivation puts it from Medieval Latin bravus "cutthroat, villain", a reduction of classical Latin pravus "crooked, depraved". A less likely etymology would have it from an unattested Vulgar (Street) Latin word brabus, a reduction of Clasical Latin barbarus "barbarous", a word Latin borrowed from Greek. All of these theories are just speculative. (Bravo! to David Myer for recommending today's Good Word some time ago.)

Dr. Goodword,

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