Defining “Adventure”

Some hear the word “Adventure” and their minds immediately jump to that place that is all-too-synonymous with fear. High-risk, no reservations, no maps, imminent death.

Merriam-Webster breaks down “adventure” into four very harsh definitions.

  • 1  a :  an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
  •    b :  the encountering of risks <the spirit of adventure>
  • 2:  an exciting or remarkable experience <an adventure in exotic dining>
  • 3:  an enterprise involving financial risk

You’ll notice a theme here. 1a, 1b, and 3 absolutely terrify me. They really bring down the word “adventure”. They are filled with negative connotations and impending doom. For this reason, I have polled some friends to gather a more holistic view of what adventure is.

“Doing something you have never done before” (Kathy, Rochester, NY).

“Doing something that is thrilling and extreme” (Sara, Rochester, NY).

I’d like to squash these automatic word-association impressions and redefine adventure in new terms. The 2nd definition from Merriam-Webster is really what I embrace as an “adventure”. To me, an adventure is any new experience that requires exploring the unknown. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, however slightly or deeply, and finally the most important component: new knowledge is always acquired. This last part is key, however it can often be difficult to identify or recognize and sometimes the learned life lesson or information may be very delayed. For example, a person going on a roller coaster for the first time may later realize they no longer need to be afraid of heights…or maybe they realize they are afraid of heights. The acquired knowledge after an adventure is very subjective, situational and biased. It depends on the person, their feelings beforehand, their feelings during and after, and all the possible nuances that affected the particular adventure experience.

This is important to remember while reading my own anecdotes of adventures. You may disagree with some of the experiences I label as “adventures”. You may think that attending a dinner party in Western New York with many people from Mexico and eating authentic Mexican tacos, is not an adventure. But this really depends on all the aforementioned considerations.

However, my takeaways from my adventures and cultural experiences, will always highlight the cultural knowledge acquired or noted, on my part. For many, it’s not new information. For even more though, it is new information. A new perspective on a culture. A new perspective on the meaning of “adventure”.

Another friend explained adventure as “Any physical, mental, emotional journey where you explore and experience new things” (Anonymous, Penfield, NY). I’d love some more feedback on what others think about in terms of adventures.


Comments Welcome 🙂


What do you consider an adventure?

What have some of your greatest adventures been?

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned after an adventure?

References:, and various friends.

1 Comment

  1. Adventure to me is an undertaking of something fearful, exciting and rewarding !
    I would have to say my greatest adventure was Motherhood :-). Unlike today, the opportunities given to me in the 50’s were limited.
    Now through your eyes I get to enjoy many adventures.
    With thanks and love,
    Gram – Fl.


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