General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun type, fonts or lettering with darker, thicker lines than is standard, used for emphasis
  • verb to set, print, or display text in bold type


  • adjective flamboyant, daringly fashionable. A vogue word of the mid-1960s, originating as a camp code word for a fashionable or overt gay. The word was adopted by mods as a term of approbation in 1965 and was used as the name of a chain of men’s boutiques.

Origin & History of “bold”

In Old English, bold meant simply ‘brave’; the modern connotations of immodesty or presumptuousness do not seem to have developed until the 12th century. The word goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *balthaz, based ultimately, it has been speculated, on Indo-European *bhel- ‘swell’ (the psychological link through ‘being puffed up’ via ‘adventurous courage’ to ‘audacity’ is scarcely far-fetched). If this is so it would mean bold is related to bellows, belly, billow, bolster, and possibly bellow and bell. The notion of impetuosity is perhaps retained in the related German bald ‘soon’.