\ə-ˈwāk \
awoke\-​ˈwōk \ also awaked\-​ˈwākt \; awoken\-​ˈwō-​kən \ 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

arouse, awaken, knock up [British], rouse, wake, waken

Synonyms: Adjective

insomniac, sleepless, wakeful, wide-awake

Antonyms: Verb


Antonyms: Adjective

asleep, dormant, dozing, napping, resting, sleeping, slumbering, unawakened

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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


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.


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

When the girls awoke they were overjoyed—and an enduring holiday tradition was born. Vogue, "Day 8: Stuff Your Stockings With Care," 12 Nov. 2018 That’s the reality the astronauts aboard the International Space Station awoke to yesterday, when it was discovered that a small leak in the station was causing the air pressure inside to drop. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "An Astronaut Plugged the Leak on the Space Station With his Finger," 31 Aug. 2018 Evacuees Todd Corrigan and his wife awoke to a beautiful sunrise Saturday in Puna after spending the night in their car at the shore., "Hawaii Braces for Long Upheaval as Erupting Kilauea Boils," 6 May 2018 LeBron James awoke Monday for his first full day as a soon-to-be Los Angeles Laker. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "As LeBron heads west, Leonard trade sits in limbo," 2 July 2018 Paz de la Huerta awoke Friday morning in France to a text message from a friend, alerting her that Harvey Weinstein was about to be arrested in New York and charged with rape. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "Paz de la Huerta on Harvey Weinstein’s Arrest: “I Couldn’t Stop Crying. I Don’t Know Why.”," 25 May 2018 Early Monday morning, the ticket owner awoke to the sound of Garmon and his brother leaving the residence and went to investigate. Kim Chatelain,, "Man accused of stealing 1956 World Series ticket in Slidell," 18 Apr. 2018 Dowling was awoken to Wedl’s hand on the back of her leg, the suit said. Crystal Hill, sacbee, "Woman fell asleep on United flight — and awoke to off-duty pilot groping her, lawsuit says," 11 July 2018 On January 25, 2016, one of 2Sops’ flight commanders, Captain Aaron Blain, was awoken by a call from work in the middle of the night. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode in Space," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Though Donald Trump's election woke a lot of white women up, black women have been awake for a long time. Lizz Winstead, Allure, "Why I'm Using Comedy to Fight for Reproductive Rights," 19 Oct. 2018 Go out for lunches—not dinners Lunches are shorter, and kids are awake. David Jefferys, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Survive a Family Vacation," 20 July 2018 For anyone who was wide awake to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding back in May, getting up in time for Princess Eugenie's wedding won't be much of an issue. Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "You'll Have to Wake Up Seriously Early to Watch Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's Wedding," 22 Sep. 2018 Sleep paralysis, for instance, is the phenomena when, if abruptly woken out of REM sleep, the body remains paralyzed in a half-dream, half-awake state. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Is Lucid Dreaming? Your Guide to Exploring Your Subconscious," 18 Sep. 2018 While both pediatricians and parents have different approaches, Dr. Jacobson recommends placing your wide-awake baby in her crib after feeding her and changing her diaper. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Where Do You Stand on the Toughest Parenting Questions?," 24 July 2018 Schools needed to 'be more awake' Winnenden is an idyllic southern German town of rolling vineyards and half-timbered homes. Isabelle De Pommereau, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Europe, preventing gun violence often starts with mental health," 26 Mar. 2018 People are awake, alive and organized and activated all over this country. Suzy Evans, The Hollywood Reporter, "Mark Ruffalo, Common and More Call for Action and Resistance at "People's State of the Union" Event," 30 Jan. 2018 Here are a few others: Caaresys, from Tel Aviv, develops monitors in a vehicle to detect heart rate, respiration and other bio-markers to determine how many people are in a vehicle and their status — awake, sleeping or under the influence. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Auto show and downtown Detroit share identical tech-happy future," 15 Jan. 2018

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


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


see awake entry 1

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Statistics for awake

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for awake

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

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More Definitions for awake



English Language Learners Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to stop sleeping : to wake up



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

: not asleep


\ə-ˈwāk \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on awake

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awake

Spanish Central: Translation of awake

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awake

What made you want to look up awake? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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