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Looking for a word that would describe, for example, a soldier who is willing to climb up out of a trench and charge to his death at the order of the commander. Or a person who, through some supernatural power, learns their fate, but attempts to push against it anyway. Or Frodo and Sam hopelessly marching alone against Mordor. Or Theoden and his entourage charging out the gate of Helm's Deep when they believe that there is no longer any hope of winning the battle.

Sort of the Finnish word Sisu but without the belief that the impossible odds can be overcome.

A kind of grave determination to at least 'give it a shot.'

Looking for a single word, preferably a noun that could be used like "The captain's speech filled him with _______" or an adjective that could be used like "Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the _________ man marched on."

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    I would call this grim determination – Jim Sep 14 '16 at 18:15
  • So, that's like deciding to live out your life even though you know you're doomed? – tchrist Sep 14 '16 at 18:41
  • Gritty determination. I also like "Grim determination" as pointed out by @Jim – blackpen Sep 14 '16 at 23:18
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I think resolute (adj) or resolve (noun) could be good options.

resolute [adj.]- firm in purpose or belief; steadfast

resolve [noun]- fixity of purpose; a strong determination to do something

In your sample sentences:

The captain's speech filled him with resolve.

Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the resolute man marched on. (or maybe "...the man marched resolutely on.")

I think it captures some of the grit/tenacity from your Sisu example, with a bit of an aspect of stoic resignation/"grave determination", as you said.

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  • Great answer. +1 I like it better than mine. – Richard Kayser Sep 15 '16 at 5:14
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I believe you are describing courage.

The ability to do something that frightens one; bravery:

'she called on all her courage to face the ordeal'

Applied to your examples, you get the following:

  1. "The captain's speech filled him with courage."

  2. "Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the courageous man marched on."

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How about resignation and resigned? They work well in your examples:

"The captain's speech filled him with resignation."

"Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the resigned man marched on."

From Dictionary.com:

resignation: an accepting, unresisting attitude, state, etc.; submission; acquiescence: to meet one's fate with resignation.

resigned: characterized by or indicative of resignation.

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Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the undaunted man marched on.

M-W:

undaunted adjective

: not afraid to continue doing something or trying to do something even though there are problems, dangers, etc.

The firefighters were undaunted by the dangerous conditions they faced.

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I think that Indomitable fits your adjective example very well.

[adjective] impossible to defeat or discourage

"Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the indomitable man marched on."

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  • But isn't the point precisely that the person is indeed discouraged, in the sense of having lost hope though perhaps not courage, and is indeed doomed to the defeat that is death? Think Hektor in Homer's Iliad 6.440-493, or Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." – Brian Donovan Sep 14 '16 at 19:16
  • Maybe, but consider a hero who gives their own life knowingly to defeat a great evil. Or a parent who dies to save their child. I wouldn't necessarily call them "discouraged" just because they know they will die. Rather, they might march to their fate with enthusiasm. – James Sep 14 '16 at 19:31
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Consider stoical

A stoic is a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion. He is impassive and characterized by a calm, austere fortitude.

Example: Soldiers are asked to be stoical and resilient in the face of all hardship. They must be mentally strong. They must be controlled enough to endure pain without complaint or question. They must regard pain or injury as a badge of honour and of manly stoicism.

in your first sentence, "The captain's speech filled him with _______" you may use volition (the power to make your own conscious choices or decisions).

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to soldier on (to continue or persist, despite adversity or difficulty - wiktionary.org)

Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, the man soldiered on.

This is a verb instead of the adjective you were imagining, but this exactly expresses the idea you described.

Perhaps it's related to the whole philosophy of being a soldier, where you plod along, and follow orders unthinkingly, even when you are aware they're pointless.

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Staunch

Unwavering

Steadfast

Determined

Perseverance

Sam and Frodo show determination despite the odds.

I'm not sure there is just ONE adjective since all of the above words can also be used when the outcome is unknown or favorable.

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"The captain's speech filled him with the resolve of a Kamikaze"
"Despite knowing that he would be dead before the day was out, like a Kamikaze he marched on."

Kamikaze n (often capital)

1. (Military) (in World War II) one of a group of Japanese pilots who performed suicidal missions by crashing their aircraft, loaded with explosives, into an enemy target, esp a ship.
[...]
3. (modifier) (of an action) undertaken or (of a person) undertaking an action in the knowledge that it will result in the death of the person performing it in order that maximum damage may be inflicted on an enemy: a kamikaze attack; a kamikaze bomber.
[...]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged

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