3

"They climbed mountains and braved through the seas"

"these six men braved the rough seas"

My question is, does "through" make any difference in the meaning between these two sentence? If yes, what sense does it add to the meaning of the second sentence compared to the first?

  • Including through wouldn't change the meaning (what feasible alternatives could there be?), but to brave through (or brave across, along, over, etc.) is not an idiomatic usage in English. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 16:06
  • just to be sure, both mean "face sort of difficulties fearlessly while crossing a sea on a boat or ship ?dont they? – Cavid Hummatov Oct 16 '16 at 16:27
  • Well, transitive to brave [something] literally just means to be brave when faced with something that might be expected to frighten you or make you run away. You can infer that braving rough seas might imply fearlessly crossing them, but in another context it might just mean being brave enough to stand on the end of a pier during a storm, fearless of or oblivious to the danger of being washed out to sea by a freak wave. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 16:33
  • Although I did actually mention the fact of it being a transitive verb, I think StoneyB's answer more explicitly flags up the relevance of that point. It needs to be followed by an object, being the thing that is bravely confronted, not just some adverbial phrase. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 16:50
4

In Present-Day English the verb brave is used transitively only. It requires a direct object which represents the danger confronted, or its source, and you cannot make that object the oblique of a preposition. Consequently, They braved through the seas is ungrammatical.

There is an obsolete intransitive sense, but it has a very different meaning: to "boast" or "brag".

  • OED has to brave it twice (as To swagger, act the bravo, and To dress splendidly, to make a gay show), both of which seem somewhat archaic/obsolete to me. But there are hundreds of written instances of I braved it where "it" doesn't necessarily have any obvious referent (i.e. - it looks like a "dummy"). And they seem perfectly idiomatic to me today, as the opposite of I bottled it (again, something of a "dummy it" usage). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 16:45
  • 1
    Indeed, @FumbleFingers. So "I braved it through the seas" would be fine. The verb would be transitive, so it would work. – Colin Fine Oct 16 '16 at 17:51
  • @FumbleFingers What Google actually shows me there is about a dozen instances. In many the it does have an explicit reference; one is the obsolete use (Walter Scott). The rest are all very recent, and the it seems to be not a dummy but a sort of generic reference to the situation, as when we say tough it out or suck it up. (I don't know bottled it.) In any case, whether the object's a dummy or not, it's still a transitive use. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 16 '16 at 17:55
  • @Colin Fine: A slightly odd thing to say, but in principle yeah. I'd certainly have no problem with an agoraphobic saying I'm really proud of myself! I braved it down to the shops this afternoon! – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 17:56
  • @StoneyB: I think to bottle it is Cockney rhyming slang originating in bottles of Courage light ale (doubtless a British brand that you'd never have heard of). Well, I'd like to think that, but I don't dare google it because somewhere in the back of my mind I suspect that's just my fevered imagination on overdrive, and I don't want to lose all my treasured and carefully-hoarded folk etymologies. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '16 at 18:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.