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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Perhaps all the losing has awakened the Orioles to try a different offensive approach. Josh Land, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles on deck: What to watch Thursday at Blue Jays, plus lineups, broadcast info and more," 7 June 2018 Brett Kavanaugh, the controversial Supreme Court associate justice whose vehemently protested Senate confirmation process awakened a national trauma for many, gave his first public speech since those contentious hearings. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Brett Kavanaugh Speech Protested With Rape Whistles, Handmaid Costumes, Christine Blasey Ford Video," 15 Nov. 2019 Especially when an opponent dares awaken a sleeping giant. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "'That's what you get': Astros' Alex Bregman breaks out with grand slam in World Series Game 4 win," 27 Oct. 2019 While summery aperitif is naturally popular every time the temperatures spike for its bubbly-bitter-refreshing mix of tastebud-awakening Aperol, prosecco, and club soda, but this year in particular has been a rollercoaster. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The History of the Aperol Spritz," 24 Aug. 2019 An East Baltimore man who braved a rowhome fire to save his neighbor has awakened from a coma this week, a family member said. Lillian Reed, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore man who ran into burning rowhome to rescue neighbor awakes from coma, son says," 7 Nov. 2019 Bed Bath & Beyond has recently awakened to the role a stronger private-label offering could play for its business, with a pledge to debut six new such brands by 2020. Washington Post, "Bed Bath & Beyond Pins Its Hopes to the Magic of Target," 10 Oct. 2019 The Djokovic return game has awakened, and the defending champion is within reach of another title. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon, Outlasting Roger Federer," 14 July 2019 But the works of Edward O. Wilson had awakened in him a keen interest in conservation. David Quammen, National Geographic, "How one of Africa’s great parks is rebounding from war," 12 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about awaken

Time Traveler for awaken

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for awaken

Last Updated

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Awaken.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awakens. Accessed 13 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on awaken

What made you want to look up awaken? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

easily led, controlled, or managed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!