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There are many slogans stated as an imperative of the form "Dare to X", where "to X" is an infinitive phrase. This typically exhorts the listener to do X, without fear or hesitation. It may suggesting that doing X will demonstrate bravery of some kind.

Examples:

  • "Dare to be different" - an encouragement to avoid excessive conformity

  • "Dare to Be Stupid" - a song by "Weird Al" Yankovic, in which the listener is encouraged, mainly in the imperative mood, to do all manner of stupid things (e.g. "You better put all your eggs in one basket / You better count your chickens before they hatch").

  • "Dare to keep kids off drugs" - an anti-drug slogan used by the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in the 1980s (it was often spelled "D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs" to hearken back to the program's acronym).

Are these all descended from some single ancestral "Dare to X" example? Do we know anything about how this form became popular?

(Inspired by the question "Dare to be dull" on ELL, which discusses the usage but not the origin.)

  • 4
    Hmm, I just noticed the Wikipedia page for Sapere aude. Maybe this is the answer. – Nate Eldredge Aug 1 '15 at 18:43
  • As @NateEldredge says: "Dare to be wise" from before 20BC. – Avon Aug 1 '15 at 18:50
  • My guess is that some company at some point in the distant past had the fabulously successful slogan "Dare to Imitate Whatever's Popular"—and other companies took the suggestion literally. – Sven Yargs Aug 1 '15 at 21:05
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(Conjectural answer to my own question. Please vote or comment on its accuracy.)

There is the Latin phrase Sapere aude, meaning roughly "Dare to know". It appeared in Horace's First Book of Letters around 20 B.C.E. Wikipedia says:

[I]n the second letter, addressed to Lolius, in line 40, the passage is: Dimidium facti, qui coepit, habet; sapere aude, incipe. (“He who has begun is half done; dare to know, dare to begin!”).

The phrase is the moral to a story, wherein a fool waits for a stream to cease flowing, before attempting to cross it. In saying, "He who begins is half done. Dare to know, dare to begin!", the Roman poet Horace suggests the value of human endeavour, of persistence in reaching a goal, of the need for effort to overcome obstacles. Moreover, the laconic Latin of Sapere aude also can be loosely translated as the English phrase “Dare to be wise”.

Wikipedia also discusses the usage of the phrase by Kant and Foucault.

It appears that this may be the original slogan, from which others are derived.

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