The word brave has three primary definitions that students may encounter in the texts they read. The underlining commonality of these definitions is courage. Firemen and women are described as brave, as an adjective, as they run into burning buildings because they are courageous. A person who wears a brave, showy purple lipstick to go with a Halloween outfit is also courageous. This use of the word brave is also an adjective. However, the word brave is used as a verb when describing an army that braves its enemies in battle. The army is also considered courageous.
Brave is considered a Middle French word that was adapted from the word bravo, meaning gallant in Italian, savage in Spanish, and barbarous in Portuguese. The word brave does not have a Spanish cognate.
Many dictionaries list brave as a noun, meaning a Native American warrior. It is important to recognize that this label emerged with the descriptions of early explorers and developed as colonization and settlement evolved. Brave is not what Native American warriors self-identified as. With over 500 tribes and many different nations and languages, the term for a warrior was actually very specific to a tribe, nation, or language. It also perpetuates the idea that all tribes had warriors or fought frequently.