\ 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.

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The fungus can cause a bat to awake early from hibernation and use excess energy stored in fat. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 5 July 2022 River runners who pull their rafts onto gently sloping sand beaches to camp may awake to find their boats stranded far above the waterline by morning. Zak Podmore, The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 May 2022 Right before any of them can grab it, Strange bolts awake in his bed. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 3 May 2022 Should the sea ever touch them both at the same time, the two will awake and fall in love. Lisa Morrow, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 While many churchgoing Central Floridians will rise on Easter morning and shuffle into pews, others will awake particularly early to gather on the shore of Orlando’s Lake Cane at sunrise. Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2022 FitzSimons and his teammates would awake early in the morning to train at Timberline. oregonlive, 4 Feb. 2022 For nearly five years, the lingering hope of the pundit class (and, notably, the Biden campaign) was that the Trump fever would eventually burn itself out and those so afflicted would awake from its throes eager to be normal again. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2022 On Christmas Day, anxiety and excitement fill the air as kids awake bright and early to find out what Santa Claus left under the tree. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, 1 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective To figure out why, Kenneth Wright, who directs the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of Colorado, has had healthy volunteers sleep during the day and stay awake all night. New York Times, 6 July 2022 In other insight from the Fairfax, Virginia courtroom where the trial took place, the court stenographer who covered the trial said that some of the jurors struggled to stay awake during the entire six-week trial. Dave Quinn,, 16 June 2022 In a video posted to its YouTube page on Monday, stenographer Judy Bellinger told Law&Crime Network that a few jurors struggled to stay awake, particularly during the video depositions. Jessica Wang,, 6 June 2022 Some jobs have always required little more than the ability to stay awake. Callum Borchers, WSJ, 19 May 2022 The cashiers pointed to Floyd, who was still slouched over, struggling to stay awake, as the culprit. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 Children and mothers gradually move away to sleep, while others stay awake, talking and telling stories. Elizabeth Preston, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 May 2022 Oftentimes, Alzheimer’s impacts sleep patterns — causing those affected to stay awake during the night. Ebony Williams, ajc, 25 Apr. 2022 These are books that Steven Grant was using while trying to stay awake at night early in Moon Knight episode 1. Chris Smith, BGR, 10 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

10 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Awake.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for awake


\ 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

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers


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