awaken

verb
awak·​en | \ ə-ˈwā-kən How to pronounce awaken (audio) \
awakened; awakening\ ə-​ˈwāk-​niŋ How to pronounce awakening (audio) , ə-​ˈwā-​kə-​ \; awakens

Definition of awaken

: awake He was awakened by a knock at the door. I awakened from a deep sleep. She awakened to the smell of bacon and eggs. news that the long-dormant volcano is now awakening a new generation awakening to the importance of political action Shortly after settling in, she was awakened in the middle of the night by the phone …— Herb Caen The honourable gentleman made a speech which drew tears from the eyes of the ladies, and awakened the liveliest emotions in every individual present.— Charles Dickens That new, different noise we hear is from a giant constituency awakening in our field, and it will get louder.Library Journal

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Other Words from awaken

awakener \ ə-​ˈwāk-​nər How to pronounce awakener (audio) , ə-​ˈwā-​kə-​ \ noun, plural awakeners
Coffee's greatest effects are exerted upon the brain and mind, since coffee is a bracing awakener. — Chris Kilham Order this spicy soup only if you like a real palate awakener. — Karola Saekel

Synonyms & Antonyms for awaken

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

lull

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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 awaken in a Sentence

She usually awakens several times during the night. A loud noise awakened her.

Recent Examples on the Web

May spies on their dalliances without confronting them, awakening a sensual stirring in herself that is not socially acceptable. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘The Third Wife’ is a story told with deft, lush strokes," 27 June 2019 Guereña's wife had awakened her husband, telling him that intruders were trying to break into the house. AZCentral.com, "Police shootings in Arizona," 19 June 2019 The first movie may have awakened every viewer’s inner pediophobe 31 years ago, but devil dolls have long since saturated the contemporary horror lexicon, and not even Mancini’s Chucky corners the market anymore. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "Review: The controversy-stirring ‘Child's Play’ remake is creepy fun before it malfunctions," 20 June 2019 The first movie may have awakened every viewer’s inner pediophobe 31 years ago, but devil dolls have long since saturated the contemporary horror lexicon, and not even Mancini’s Chucky corners the market anymore. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Controversial ‘Child’s Play’ remake is creepy fun before it malfunctions," 20 June 2019 So Scherzer was to call pitching coach Paul Menhart upon awakening Wednesday with any overnight updates. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Max Scherzer plans to pitch Wednesday with broken nose, says Nationals manager," 19 June 2019 As Nicole Kidman’s Celeste awakens, screaming, from her nightmare, cool gray eyes peer down at her through wire-rimmed glasses, radiating calm, concern and a hint of menace; the small mouth puckers determinedly. Judy Berman, Time, "With Meryl Streep on Big Little Lies, It's Time to Admit That Film and TV Are Converging," 6 June 2019 Intermittent hunger clears the mind, awakens the senses, and improves brain functioning. Rahul Jandial, Md, Health.com, "The Popular Diet One Neurosurgeon Swears By as a Way to Boost His Brainpower," 5 June 2019 Hearing students read America’s Declaration of Independence out loud on TV awakened something deep in people’s souls. Helen Raleigh, National Review, "Thirty Years after Tiananmen, China Is Still Unwilling to Tell the Truth," 4 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awaken.' 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 awaken

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for awaken

Middle English, from Old English awæcnian, from a- + wæcnian to waken

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Statistics for awaken

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for awaken

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

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More Definitions for awaken

awaken

verb

English Language Learners Definition of awaken

somewhat formal : to stop sleeping : to wake up

awaken

verb
awak·​en | \ ə-ˈwā-kən How to pronounce awaken (audio) \
awakened; awakening

Kids Definition of awaken

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More from Merriam-Webster on awaken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awaken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awaken

Spanish Central: Translation of awaken

Britannica English: Translation of awaken for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awaken

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