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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

intransitive verb

: to cease sleeping : to wake up
She awoke late that morning.
The next day we awoke to the sound of drums.Sarah Ferrell
: to become aroused or active again
when the volcano awoke
: 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

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


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

Did you know?

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'.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
One Saturday morning in February, Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn awoke to find her home had been defaced by graffiti. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2024 When Moura was filming in Atlanta two years ago, the stomach-turning threat inherent in the line awoke a latent nightmare in the actor. Seija Rankin, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Mar. 2024 Rainbow Bear follows the adorable journey of Little Bear, who awakes from his winter's slumber hungry. Sari Hitchins, Parents, 15 Mar. 2024 Her parents, meanwhile, were relieved that their daughter awoke without any health problems. Julia Michie Bruckner, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2024 Remember last summer, when people in New York, Washington, and Chicago awoke to plumes of orange smoke blanketing their skies from the drift of Canadian wildfires? Morgan Haefner, Quartz, 26 Feb. 2024 Early one morning, Nat awoke to see Ringo engaged in passionate motion with the edge of the mattress. David Frum, The Atlantic, 21 Mar. 2024 The assignment The journalists awoke on Jan. 7 to news of an airstrike on the home of the Abu al-Naja family, south of Khan Younis, according to a photographer for the Palestine Today television channel, Amer Abu Amr, who was also at the scene that day. Hazem Balousha, Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2024 In a social media post last October, Adele explained the drill of two shows each weekend had awoken something in her. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 31 Jan. 2024
Vance, meanwhile, is awake, although Palmer (Brian Dietzen) warns McGee and Parker (Gary Cole) to avoid any upsetting topics. Sara Netzley,, 16 Apr. 2024 The first victims, Christopher Rhoden Sr. and his cousin Gary Rhoden, were awake when shot just near the front door of Chris Rhoden's trailer home on Union Hill Road. The Enquirer, 15 Apr. 2024 The fact was: if the husband had been fully awake, he’d have been stunned and mystified by his own behavior. Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2024 By the mid-1930s, researchers had observed the striking differences between the awake and asleep EEG. Giridhar Kalamangalam, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024 Syu-Heng Lai was 11 when the quake struck and can still recall how the temblor shook him awake at his family’s apartment in TaiPei and nearly threw him out of bed. Evan Bush, NBC News, 4 Apr. 2024 Mothers stay awake at night, fearing that their sons will be arrested or killed. Sufian Taha, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2024 The frantic phone calls jolted Earl Schneider awake. Melissa Chan, NBC News, 27 Mar. 2024 The patient is often awake, under local anesthesia, with sedation similar to that used for dental procedures. Discover Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'awake.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use


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


13th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near awake

Cite this Entry

“Awake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
awoke -ˈwōk How to pronounce awake (audio) also awaked -ˈwākt How to pronounce awake (audio) ; awoken -ˈwō-kən How to pronounce awake (audio) or awaked also awoke; awaking
: to arouse from sleep : wake up
: to become aware of something
awoke to their danger
: to make or become active : stir
awoke old memories


2 of 2 adjective
: not sleeping

More from Merriam-Webster on awake

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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