For me, if someone is brave, it has always meant that they face certain dangers or situations, even though doing so is something that scares the living daylights out of them. For instance, if a normally timid person, one who would normally run away from danger, were to risk his life to save a child being attacked by a dog, I would consider that person (usually considered a wimp) to be very brave.
Merriam-Webster defines brave:
having or showing courage
A rather weak definition. But, it defines courage:
mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
Which tends to agree with my original premise. But, Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary defines brave:
showing no fear of dangerous or difficult things
Which I think is silly, because a lot of people I would consider brave, did their brave acts despite having fear.
Random House Dictionary defines brave much the same as M-W, but defines courage:
the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
Which means that to be brave, one cannot have fear. In direct opposition to M-W, which says (in a roundabout way) that withstanding fear is brave.
So, this has lead me to be confused as to whether or not I use the word "brave" in the same sense as others. What do the words "brave", and "courage" really mean?