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

transitive + intransitive

: 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

Antonyms

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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 But the April 19, 1995, assault on a sleepy city in the nation’s heartland shocked many Americans out of their sense of security and awakened them to their own vulnerability. Fox News, "25 years after Oklahoma City bombing, anxiety remains high," 20 Apr. 2020 It is believed Modell, dressed only in shorts, intended to return to his condo from the pool, but instead mistakenly pounded on the Taylors’ door, awakening them. Washington Post, "Florida governor asked to reexamine ‘stand your ground’ case," 29 Jan. 2020 Rand says the roof would’ve collapsed on him if Curly hadn’t awakened him. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Good boy! Dog saves South Carolina veteran during house fire," 8 Oct. 2019 Back in Shenzhen, the home of Huawei’s global headquarters, Joe Kelly was awakened by a phone call. Garrett M. Graff, Wired, "Inside the Feds’ Battle Against Huawei," 16 Jan. 2020 And stimulating these ADRB1-bearing brainstem neurons could immediately awaken them from deep sleep. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "This genetic mutation makes people feel rested on just 6 hours of sleep," 28 Aug. 2019 When sentiments about conservation began to awaken at the beginning of the 20th century, Italy was among the first European countries to provide protection for its charismatic fauna. Christopher Preston, The Atlantic, "Conservationists No Longer Agree on What ‘Wild’ Means," 9 Apr. 2020 True hibernators such as groundhogs and bats are beginning to awaken, and other mammals are becoming more active. cleveland, "Cleveland Metroparks remain open as signs of spring welcome visitors," 27 Mar. 2020 Since the majority of older people are female, the demographic power of women in the second half of life is a sleeping giant that has only to be awakened to transform our society. Leslie Bennetts, New York Times, "Stop Telling Older Women to Step Aside," 10 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for awaken

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for awaken

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Awaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awaken. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for awaken

awaken

verb
How to pronounce awaken (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awaken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awaken

Spanish Central: Translation of awaken

Britannica English: Translation of awaken for Arabic Speakers

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