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From Middle English embracen, from Old French embracier, equivalent to em- +‎ brace. Influenced by Middle English umbracen (to stretch out over, cover, engulf), from um- (around) + bracen (to brace).


  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈbɹeɪs/, /ɛmˈbɹeɪs/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪs


embrace (third-person singular simple present embraces, present participle embracing, simple past and past participle embraced)

  1. To clasp (someone or each other) in the arms with affection; to take in the arms; to hug.
    • c. 1579, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act V, Scene 2,[1]
      I will embrace him with a soldier’s arm,
      That he shall shrink under my courtesy.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Acts 20:1,[2]
      [] Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them []
    • 1982, Lawrence Durrell, Constance, New York: Viking, Chapter Nine, p. 261,[3]
      [] she went up to him in a somewhat irresolute fashion, as if about to put out her hand; but they embraced instead, and stood for a moment yoked thus, absurdly relieved and delighted by the other’s presence.
    • 1990, J. M. Coetzee, Age of Iron, London: Secker & Warburg, p. 5,
      We embrace to be embraced. We embrace our children to be folded in the arms of the future, to pass ourselves beyond death, to be transported. That is how it was when I embraced you, always.
  2. (obsolete) To accept (someone) as a friend or servant.
    • c. 1607, William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act IV, Scene 7,[4]
      [] He bears himself more proudlier,
      Even to my person, than I thought he would
      When first I did embrace him:
  3. To seize (something) eagerly, or with alacrity; to accept with cordiality; to welcome.
    I wholeheartedly embrace the new legislation.
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene 1,[5]
      I take it, your own business calls on you
      And you embrace the occasion to depart.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Hebrews 11:13,[6]
      These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
    • 1706, John Locke, Of the Conduct of the Understanding, London, 1741, §34, p. 88,[7]
      [] if a Man can be persuaded and fully assur’d of anything for a truth, without having examin’d what is there that he may not embrace for truth [] what means is there left to recover one who can be assur’d without examining?
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 27,[8]
      Thou hast shown me the means of revenge, and be assured I will embrace them.
    • 1953, James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain, New York: Laurel, 1985, Part Two, p. 186,[9]
      Then she thought how, now, she would embrace again the faith she had abandoned, and walk again in the light from which, with Richard, she had so far fled.
  4. To accept; to undergo; to submit to.
  5. To encircle; to encompass; to enclose.
    • 1641, John Denham, “Coopers Hill” in Poems and Translations with the Sophy, London: H. Herringman, 1668, p. 14,[11]
      Low at his foot a spacious plain is plac’t,
      Between the mountain and the stream embrac’t:
    • 1937, Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana, London: Macmillan, Part 5, p. 228,[12]
      But it was not this that conveyed the size of the steppe so much as the multiplicity of these nomadic encampments, cropping up wherever the eye rested, yet invariably separate by a mile or two from their neighbours. There were hundreds of them, and the sight, therefore, seemed to embrace hundreds of miles.
  6. (figuratively) To enfold, to include (ideas, principles, etc.); to encompass.
    Natural philosophy embraces many sciences.
    • 1697, John Dryden, (translator) The Works of Virgil, London: Jacob Tonson, The Second Book of the Georgics, p. 73,[13]
      Not that my song, in such a scanty space,
      So large a Subject fully can embrace:
    • 1961, Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, New York: Avon, Part One, Chapter 8, p. 59,[14]
      The Man from Mars sat down again when Jill left. He did not pick up the picture book they had given him but simply waited in a fashion which may be described as “patient” only because human language does not embrace Martian attitudes.
  7. (obsolete) To fasten on, as armour.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book 2, Canto 1, p. 194,[15]
      Who seeing him from far so fierce to pricke,
      His warlike armes about him gan embrace,
  8. (law) To attempt to influence (a jury, court, etc.) corruptly; to practise embracery.
    • 1769, William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Dublin: John Exshaw et al., 1773, 5th edition, Volume 4, Chapter 10, p. 140,[16]
      The punishment for the person embracing is by fine and imprisonment; and, for the juror so embraced, if it be by taking money, the punishment is [] perpetual infamy, imprisonment for a year, and forfeiture of the tenfold value.


Derived termsEdit



embrace (plural embraces)

  1. Hug (noun); putting arms around someone.
    • c. 1594, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act V, Scene 3,[17]
      [] Eyes, look your last!
      Arms, take your last embrace!
    • 1817, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 28,[18]
      [] a long and affectionate embrace supplied the place of language in bidding each other adieu []
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter I, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      [] a delighted shout from the children swung him toward the door again. His sister, Mrs. Gerard, stood there in carriage gown and sables, radiant with surprise. ¶ "Phil!  You!  Exactly like you, Philip, to come strolling in from the antipodes—dear fellow!" recovering from the fraternal embrace and holding both lapels of his coat in her gloved hands.
  2. Enclosure, (partially or fully) surrounding someone or something.
    • 1882, Bret Harte, Flip: A California Romance, Chapter 2, in Flip and Found at Blazing Star, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 44,[19]
      When he reached the ridge the outlying fog crept across the summit, caught him in its embrace, and wrapped him from her gaze.
    • 1896, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “The Evil-looking Boatmen”, in The Island of Doctor Moreau (Heinemann’s Colonial Library of Popular Fiction; 52), London: William Heinemann, OCLC 892648905; republished as The Island of Doctor Moreau: A Possibility, New York, N.Y.: Stone & Kimball, 1896, OCLC 660486, page 48:
      We were now within the embrace of a broad bay flanked on either hand by a low promontory.
  3. Full acceptance (of something).
    • 1932, William Faulkner, Light in August, New York: Modern Library, 1950, Chapter 19, p. 393,[20]
      [] it was the white blood which sent him to the minister, which rising in him for the last and final time, sent him against all reason and all reality, into the embrace of a chimera, a blind faith in something read in a printed Book.
    • 1965, Muriel Spark, The Mandelbaum Gate, Penguin, 1967, Part Two, Chapter 6, p. 242,[21]
      [] after she had learned of Ricky’s marriage and her sale of the school in England, her eager embrace of Islam, and the total handing over of her lot to Joe Ramdez []
  4. (figuratively) Enfolding, including.
    • 1913, Rabindranath Tagore, Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life, New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing, Chapter 1, pp. 8-9,[22]
      In India men are enjoined to be fully awake to the fact that they are in the closest relation to things around them, body and soul, and that they are to hail the morning sun, the flowing water, the fruitful earth, as the manifestation of the same living truth which holds them in its embrace.

Derived termsEdit





  1. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
  2. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
  3. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of embrazar.
  4. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of embrazar.