\ ə-ˈwāk How to pronounce awake (audio) \
awoke\ ə-​ˈwōk How to pronounce awake (audio) \ also awaked\ ə-​ˈwākt How to pronounce awake (audio) \; awoken\ ə-​ˈwō-​kən How to pronounce awake (audio) \ also awaked or awoke; awaking

Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to cease sleeping : to wake up She awoke late that morning. The next day we awoke to the sound of drums.— Sarah Ferrell
2 : to become aroused or active again when the volcano awoke
3 : to become conscious or aware of something awoke to the possibilities At the same time, Italian prosecutors awoke to the international magnitude of their Sicilian underworld …— Selwyn Raab

transitive verb

1 : to arouse from sleep or a sleeplike state He was awoken by the storm.
2 : to make active : to stir up an experience that awoke old memories



Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: fully conscious, alert, and aware : not asleep I'm so tired I can barely stay awake.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for awake

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for awake


aware, cognizant, conscious, sensible, alive, awake mean having knowledge of something. aware implies vigilance in observing or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences. aware of changes in climate cognizant implies having special or certain knowledge as from firsthand sources. not fully cognizant of the facts conscious implies that one is focusing one's attention on something or is even preoccupied by it. conscious that my heart was pounding sensible implies direct or intuitive perceiving especially of intangibles or of emotional states or qualities. sensible of a teacher's influence alive adds to sensible the implication of acute sensitivity to something. alive to the thrill of danger awake implies that one has become alive to something and is on the alert. a country always awake to the threat of invasion

The Past Tense Forms of Awake and Awaken


Awake and awaken are two distinct verbs that mean the same thing. In other words, they're synonyms, and in the present tense they each behave the way English verbs typically behave:

The cat awakes at dawn.

The cat awakens at dawn.

Things get trickier in the past tense.

Our modern verb awake is the result of the long-ago melding of two older verbs. These verbs were very similar, but one had regular past tense forms (like play: played, has played) and the other had irregular past tense forms (like take: took, has taken).

When the two verbs melded into the modern awake (which was a process over many years), things got complicated, resulting ultimately in the following grammatically permissible sentences:

The cat awaked at dawn.

The cat awoke at dawn.

The cat was awaked by the mouse at dawn.

The cat was awoken by the mouse at dawn.

Note, though, that at this point, these are the most common:

The cat awoke at dawn.

The cat was awoken by the mouse at dawn.

That's the story of awake. Fortunately awaken (which was originally one of the past tense forms of awake) is simpler. It's a regular verb, which means it has the usual past tense forms:

The cat awakened at dawn.

The cat was awakened at dawn by a mouse.

As if all this weren't complicated enough, awake is also an adjective:

Because of the cat, I too am now awake.

For a detailed discussion of the history of these words, please see the The Grammatical History of 'Awaken' / 'Awoken' / 'Awakened'.

Examples of awake in a Sentence

Verb She fell asleep immediately but awoke an hour later. I awoke several times during the night. The baby awoke from his nap. The alarm awoke me early. They were awoken by a loud bang. Adjective Drinking coffee keeps him awake. I am so tired I can barely stay awake. She was lying awake, tossing and turning. One moment she was sleeping soundly—the next she was wide awake.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In 2021, the largest brood of cicadas in the United States, appropriately named Brood X, will awake from a 17-year sleep and burrow out of the cold earth, ushering in a new season of baroque bug horrors. Aj Willingham, CNN, "2020 was the year of scary bugs, and 2021 will be even worse," 30 Dec. 2020 Some people are sensitive sleepers and will easily awake when their air conditioner cycles between on and off as the compressor adjusts to maintain the room temperature setting. Eric Alt, Popular Science, "Best portable air conditioner: Cool off where you need it most," 17 Dec. 2020 The off-kilter rhythms feel both immersive and agitated, as if Fincher were trying to both hypnotize you and jolt you awake with his lustrous Old Hollywood homage. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Mank’ is a gorgeous dive into film history — and a sharp reflection on our political present," 6 Nov. 2020 The bellboys chose this particular time to stage a wild party in the basement that kept the remaining guests and the neighbors awake half the night. Enid Griffis, Harper's Magazine, "Life During Wartime," 15 Sep. 2020 This time around, Bassitt waited patiently for his slumping offense to awake and he was rewarded by his center fielder. Chris Talbott, Star Tribune, "Laureano, Bassitt lead Athletics past Mariners 3-2," 2 Aug. 2020 Very sad to awake to the news that @carlreiner has passed. Christian Holub,, "Rob Reiner, Alan Alda, more pay tribute to comedy legend Carl Reiner: 'He is irreplaceable'," 30 June 2020 The arrest came after Minneapolis residents awoke Friday to smoke billowing, fires burning and police lining their streets after another intense night of protests following Floyd's death. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, "Mike Pence says he supports peaceful protests. Here's how he's responded to them before.," 29 May 2020 Minneapolis awoke to as much as 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow. David Koenig, Twin Cities, "Winter storm threatens to scramble Thanksgiving travel plans," 28 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Last week's Grey's Anatomy ended on such an emotional high note, so fans are understandably excited to see what will happen now that Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is awake and doing better. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Grey's Anatomy' Fans, Try Not to Be Too Crushed Over This Season 17 Episode Announcement," 30 Apr. 2021 One theory is that the more people are awake, the longer their neurons are active and the more amyloid is produced, Musiek said., "Sleeping too little in middle age may increase dementia risk, study finds," 20 Apr. 2021 The sun is up, the 2-year-old is awake, there’s more coffee to brew. Los Angeles Times, "Essential Arts: The Hammer and Huntington open ‘Made in L.A.’," 17 Apr. 2021 And my ever-present aggravation that Meredith is still not awake. Lincee Ray,, "Grey's Anatomy recap: Police brutality and racial profiling take center stage," 16 Apr. 2021 Hours before the dawn even considers cracking, Issa Rae is awake. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, "Issa Rae," 15 Apr. 2021 Eldridge asked whether Floyd was awake and talking throughout the interaction. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Derek Chauvin Trial 4/13/21: Defense launches case for ex-cop charged in George Floyd's death," 14 Apr. 2021 The screen will light up and a short vibration will follow, letting the wearer know the device is awake. Jason Cipriani, CNN Underscored, "The Fitbit Ace 3 is a great fitness tracker for your little one," 5 Apr. 2021 Buzzard says that for those awake to the climate crisis, there is great danger in trying to deal with that awareness alone. Emma Pattee, Marie Claire, "Eco-Anxiety Is Manifesting in New Moms in Crippling—and Sometimes Motivating—Ways," 21 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of awake


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for awake

Verb and Adjective

Middle English awaken (from Old English awacan, onwacan, from a- entry 1, on + wacan to awake) & awakien, from Old English awacian, from a- entry 1 + wacian to be awake — more at wake

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Time Traveler for awake

Time Traveler

The first known use of awake was before the 12th century

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Statistics for awake

Cite this Entry

“Awake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for awake



English Language Learners Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

somewhat formal : to stop sleeping : to wake up



English Language Learners Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: not asleep


\ ə-ˈwāk How to pronounce awake (audio) \
awoke\ -​ˈwōk \; awoken\ -​ˈwō-​kən \ or awaked\ -​ˈwākt \; awaking

Kids Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stop sleeping : wake up The baby awoke from his nap.
2 : to make or become conscious or aware of something They finally awoke to the danger.



Kids Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: not asleep

More from Merriam-Webster on awake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awake

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awake

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