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

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

The Coroner heard Natasha’s head had awoken due to a lack of oxygen, and despite CPR her heart kept restarting and stopping. Fox News, "Teen with severe allergy died after eating baguette with hidden sesame seeds, family claims," 24 Sep. 2018 Later that morning, the neighbor awoke and saw that Bhogal’s vehicle was still in the parking lot, near the victim’s apartment. Agueda Pacheco-flores, The Seattle Times, "Canadian man wanted for rape and murder in Windsor, Ontario, arrested in Kent," 27 Aug. 2018 Nigerians—millions of whom have traveled long distances to vote in their home region—awoke to the news early Saturday with a mixture of bafflement and anger. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria Postpones Presidential Election Hours Before Polls Were Set to Open," 16 Feb. 2019 The voice of her band director, who was yelling something, awoke her. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Channelview ISD students recount deadly bus crash in Alabama," 13 Mar. 2018 The party dispersed—with most off to bed and a few brave souls venturing deeper into the Parisian night—but all awoke to the same beautiful surprise: the City of Light dusted with a fresh coat of snow. Alexander Howard, Vogue, "At Couture Week, Hunting Season Hosted a Très Chic Crew for Dinner," 22 Jan. 2019 The victim said LaVigne only stopped as his daughter awoke, according to WFRV. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Teacher accused of sexual assault on daughter’s friend shows up at graduation, Wisc. cops say," 8 June 2018 They were awoken by their pitbull, Luna, and flames were already burning the home next door. Tamara Lush, The Seattle Times, "Tragedy survivors reflect on Thanksgiving after year of loss," 21 Nov. 2018 According to a criminal complaint and Greendale police report: Sometime around 2:45 a.m., the victim was awoken by Grills standing over her in her bedroom along the 6600 block of Greenway on June 9. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Greendale woman feared for her life during kidnapping," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Reduce screen time Blue light, or artificial blue wavelength lighting emitted by electronic devices, can keep you awake and therefore, disrupt your sleep. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "How to Fall Asleep," 12 Mar. 2019 Who would be awake and able to use their phone and live their life, and therefore trigger these curtains open and closed? Bridget Read, Vogue, "Miranda July Talks #MeToo, Tech, and Joanie4Jackie," 16 Oct. 2018 In the original season, the hosts were fighting for agency — for the freedom to be awake and self-aware, and to make their own decisions. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Westworld Spoilers Club season 2, episode 5: Akane No Mai," 21 May 2018 The three victims were all awake and talking, with non-life threatening injuries, according to Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Chris Mccrory, azcentral, "Phoenix, Avondale fire departments responding after triple shooting," 5 May 2018 For most people, the 16 hours spent awake each day are hardly enough time to get critical tasks done, let alone acquire knowledge. Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "Can a Person Learn While Sleeping?," 16 Mar. 2019 Buy it: $4, Step Five: Highlighter Just like illuminating primer, highlighter helps the skin look more glowy and awake. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "13 Products That Make It Look Like I Got 8 Hours of Sleep When I Simply Did Not," 5 Mar. 2019 After one season dormant, Lanvin is awake again—and with a new designer at its helm. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Lanvin Names Bruno Sialelli as Creative Director," 21 Jan. 2019 The only thing keeping me awake during this class was an intense itchy sensation all over my legs. Kate Gardner, SELF, "What It’s Like to Be So Sleep Deprived That You Hallucinate," 14 Feb. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near awake








Statistics for awake

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

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)

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

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).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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