\ ə-ˈwāk How to pronounce awake (audio) \
awoke\ ə-​ˈwōk How to pronounce awoke (audio) \ also awaked\ ə-​ˈwākt How to pronounce awaked (audio) \; awoken\ ə-​ˈwō-​kən How to pronounce awoken (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 Early in the past decade, as Washington awoke to China’s theft of American industrial know-how, the FBI caseload for investigating such theft increased 50% from year to year. Howard W. French, WSJ, "‘The Scientist and the Spy’ Review: Agent Running in the Field," 9 Feb. 2020 Like many kids his age, Russell stayed up late to study Bryant’s highlights on YouTube, awaking to mimic Bryant’s fadeaway jumper in his driveway. Connor Letourneau,, "How D’Angelo Russell’s career changed in a season with Kobe Bryant," 29 Jan. 2020 President Trump’s reelection campaign has also awoken to the idea of facing Sanders in a general election. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Biden nightmare scenario: How Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination," 10 Jan. 2020 The city had not yet awoken on the frigid Sunday morning of February 20, 2011. Carmel Mc Mahon, Longreads, "Brigid, Magdalene, My Mother, and Me," 13 Nov. 2019 When Gregg awoke at 6:40 a.m., Murphy wasn’t in bed or in their house in the Frogtown neighborhood, which abuts the L.A. River. Los Angeles Times, "An actor’s death was ruled an accidental drowning. His widow and private investigators suspect foul play," 6 Oct. 2019 The last few years have hopefully awoken the world to the reality that relying on a US that will only get more chaotic and unpredictable does not make for a safer world. Chandran Nair, Quartz, "It’s time the world ghosts Trump and gets down to real work," 21 Sep. 2019 When the passenger awoke, a masked man was driving the truck and pointing a gun at his head, Tulsa TV station KOTV reports. USA TODAY, "Butter Gritty, radish stink, goatnapping: News from around our 50 states," 3 Jan. 2020 Kelly, who was still wearing his Halloween costume (Woody from the movie Toy Story) sat down on the couch next to her and awoke her. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Colts QB Chad Kelly facing civil lawsuits stemming from night of 2018 trespassing arrest," 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ali Bakara, a twenty-eight-year old mother of eight, was jolted awake. Nicolas Niarchos, Time, "Boko Haram Refugees Find Safety in Niger. But How Long Can the Country Remain a Safe Haven in the Sahel?," 30 Jan. 2020 He had been jolted awake by a phone call, from someone alerting him to a large fire that had ripped through the marina where his daughter, her husband and their children lived in house boats. New York Times, "‘There’s Nothing Left’: An Inferno Tears Through Alabama Boat Dock, Killing 8," 27 Jan. 2020 When Jay Sekulow took the stand, speaking audibly louder, Risch was jolted awake. NBC News, "Article II: Inside impeachment — Rewriting the rules," 24 Jan. 2020 Maria Quiñones Santiago was jolted awake Tuesday morning and said her home in Guánica was crushed. David Begnaud, CBS News, "Puerto Rico residents fear aftershocks after deadly 6.4 magnitude earthquake," 7 Jan. 2020 Lee Merritt was camped out in his living room having a slumber party with his children when a phone call jolted him awake. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "Lee Merritt, attorney at the heart of Amber Guyger case, wants to ‘change the culture of policing’," 9 Oct. 2019 Many in Ridgecrest, who already were rattled from consistent aftershocks since Thursday’s quake, were jolted awake by the latest temblor. Hannah Fry,, "Magnitude 5.4 quake, a powerful aftershock to Ridgecrest temblor, jolts Southern California," 5 July 2019 There’s nothing like wildly painful leg cramps to jolt you awake in the middle of the night. Korin Miller, SELF, "7 Ways to Make Sleep More Comfortable When You’re Pregnant," 31 Jan. 2019 The otherwise-quiet opening day of the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting was jolted wide awake with a late afternoon surprise visit by seemingly omnipresent lawyer Michael Avenatti. Lee Ross, Fox News, "Michael Avenatti makes surprise visit to DNC summer meeting," 23 Aug. 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

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

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Awake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for awake


How to pronounce awake (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on awake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awake

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awake

Spanish Central: Translation of awake

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers

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