Fortune Favors the Bold | Meaning & Origin

Idioms updated on  January 29, 2024 2 min read
The idiom fortune favors the bold means that being brave and taking risks can make you successful.

This phrase comes from the Latin audentes Fortuna Iuvat, which exists in a few forms. This phrase implies that your fate is not predetermined; rather, you have the opportunity to make your life great through the actions you take.

Examples
You should try out for the play. After all, fortune favors the bold.
Fortune favors the bold, so I’m going after my dreams.
Whenever I would get nervous, my grandma would tell me,
Fortune favors the bold.”

How to use fortune favors the bold

“Fortune favors the bold” is used to reason why one should perform an action (e.g., “Fortune favors the bold, so I’m going to film a movie”). It is also often used as a response to encourage someone to perform an action (e.g., “Do you think I should start sharing my artwork online?” “Fortune favors the bold.”).

The idiom “fortune favors the bold” can be used within a sentence or can stand alone as a complete sentence.

Examples: Fortune favors the bold in a sentence
She’s applying for college? Good for her; fortune favors the bold.
If fortune favors the bold, then I have to go after what I want.
Fortune may favor the bold, but I’m scared of messing up.

Fortune favors the bold in Latin

“Fortune favors the bold” is a translation of a Latin proverb. There are a few Latin translations for this phrase, including:

  • audentes Fortuna Iuvat
  • audentes Fortuna adiuvat
  • Fortuna audaces iuvat
  • audentis Fortuna iuvat

There are also variations on the phrase, which include the following:

  • fortes Fortuna adiuvat (“fortune favors the strong”)
  • Fortuna Eruditis Favet (“fortune favors the prepared mind”)

The phrase is believed to have originated from Terence, a Roman playwright. One of the proverbial phrases in Act 1 of his play Phormio (161 BC) is fortes fortuna adiuvat, or “fortune favors the strong.”

The poet Virgil was the first to use the exact phrase audentes Fortuna iuvat (“fortune favors the bold”). He capitalized the “f” in “Fortuna” because it’s the name of the Roman goddess of luck.

In his letters,  Pliny the Younger quotes his uncle, Pliny the Elder, as saying “fortune favors the bold” when choosing to lead an expedition to investigate  the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


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Frequently asked questions about fortune favors the bold

Who said fortune favors the bold?

Many people credit the playwright Terence with the origin of the idiom “fortune favors the strong.” However, Virgil is credited with the more popular version “fortune favors the bold.”

Is fortune favors the bold Latin?

The idiom “fortune favors the bold” is a translation of the Lain proverb audentes Fortuna Iuvat.

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Paige Pfeifer

Paige teaches QuillBot writers about grammar rules and writing conventions. She has a BA in English, which she received by reading and writing a lot of fiction. That is all she knows how to do.

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