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 Once the light has reached its full brightness level, the alarm clock will play one of five soothing sounds of your choosing to rouse you, or opt to awaken to FM radio instead. Ellen Mcalpine, CNN Underscored, "Start your day on a brighter note with the Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock, now on sale," 6 July 2020 Using a lockout kit, police managed to open the passenger’s side door, put the car in park and awaken the driver. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "Driver passes out behind the wheel: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 27 June 2020 The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "NASA to name DC headquarters after Mary Jackson, organization's first black female engineer," 24 June 2020 The nation is beginning to awaken to the greater need to honor the full diversity of people who helped pioneer our great nation. Nick Givas, Fox News, "NASA renaming headquarters for 'Hidden Figures' scientist Mary Jackson," 25 June 2020 His research and advocacy helped awaken the medical establishment to the dangers of sleep deprivation, which Dr. Dement and his colleagues linked to fatal car crashes and ailments such as diabetes. Harrison Smith, BostonGlobe.com, "William Dement, psychiatrist known as ‘the father of sleep medicine,’ dies at 91," 22 June 2020 Pry has helped awaken the nation to the threat posed by an EMP attack, either from a military foe or solar event. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "China develops weapons to fry US electric grid, eyes high-tech ‘Pearl Harbor’ attack," 18 June 2020 The 21st night of daily demonstrations lasted long into the morning Thursday, as police took down makeshift barriers and cleared protesters from the Pearl District as the city began to awaken. oregonlive, "Police clear protesters, makeshift barriers in Pearl District as sun rises," 18 June 2020 The most unusual NASA Pony Baseball season began to awaken from its unexpected slumber Monday night when the Miami Hurricanes and the Oregon State Beavers were two of the teams that held practice at Mark Ulmer Field. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "NASA Pony Baseball teams returning to the field for practice sessions," 2 June 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

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Awaken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awaken. Accessed 14 Jul. 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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