awaken

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

Other Words from awaken

awakener \ ə-​ˈwāk-​nər How to pronounce awaken (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 In the 1930s, the police chief kept a list of people to awaken in case of northern lights. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 8 May 2022 What could be most important about nasal vaccines is their ability to awaken a powerful bodily defender known as mucosal immunity, something largely untapped by the standard shots. Marla Broadfoot, Scientific American, 3 May 2022 Some people with obstructive sleep apnea might awaken suddenly with a gasping or choking sound, or a jerk of the body. Beth Krietsch, SELF, 28 Oct. 2021 The concept seemed downright crazy 14 years ago when then-City Councilman Fred Richardson pitched an idea to awaken downtown Mobile on New Year’s Eve. al, 23 Jan. 2022 The two's goal is to build a wellness center in Costa Rica, tentatively called Nekawa, which is awaken backward. Steve Dimeglio, USA TODAY, 13 Apr. 2022 For all the lives Dr. Raffensperger helped save during his career, the faces of the children who died on the operating table still awaken him with vivid nightmares. Bob Greene, WSJ, 26 Dec. 2021 The Guardians sign Michael Conforto for three or four year and extend Jose Ramirez’s contract to awaken a comatose franchise? Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 2 Apr. 2022 Now that the danger is lapping at Europe’s doorstep, the continent has begun to awaken. Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near awaken

awake

awaken

awakening

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Statistics for awaken

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Awaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awaken. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for awaken

awaken

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

Kids Definition of awaken

More from Merriam-Webster on awaken

Britannica English: Translation of awaken for Arabic Speakers

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