\ ə-ˈwāk How to pronounce awake (audio) \
awoke\ ə-​ˈwōk How to pronounce awoke (audio) \ also awaked\ ə-​ˈwākt How to pronounce awaked (audio) \; awoken\ ə-​ˈwō-​kən How to pronounce awoken (audio) \ also awaked or awoke; awaking

Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to cease sleeping : to wake up She awoke late that morning. The next day we awoke to the sound of drums.— Sarah Ferrell
2 : to become aroused or active again when the volcano awoke
3 : to become conscious or aware of something awoke to the possibilities At the same time, Italian prosecutors awoke to the international magnitude of their Sicilian underworld …— Selwyn Raab

transitive verb

1 : to arouse from sleep or a sleeplike state He was awoken by the storm.
2 : to make active : to stir up an experience that awoke old memories



Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: fully conscious, alert, and aware : not asleep I'm so tired I can barely stay awake.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for awake

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for awake


aware, cognizant, conscious, sensible, alive, awake mean having knowledge of something. aware implies vigilance in observing or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences. aware of changes in climate cognizant implies having special or certain knowledge as from firsthand sources. not fully cognizant of the facts conscious implies that one is focusing one's attention on something or is even preoccupied by it. conscious that my heart was pounding sensible implies direct or intuitive perceiving especially of intangibles or of emotional states or qualities. sensible of a teacher's influence alive adds to sensible the implication of acute sensitivity to something. alive to the thrill of danger awake implies that one has become alive to something and is on the alert. a country always awake to the threat of invasion

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 awake in a Sentence

Verb She fell asleep immediately but awoke an hour later. I awoke several times during the night. The baby awoke from his nap. The alarm awoke me early. They were awoken by a loud bang. Adjective Drinking coffee keeps him awake. I am so tired I can barely stay awake. She was lying awake, tossing and turning. One moment she was sleeping soundly—the next she was wide awake.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One evening, following a week of intense drills, Maes and his two crewmates fell asleep in the tank, but were awoken a short time later when the vehicle’s parking brake failed. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "Soldier, 21, Severs Own Leg to Save Crew After Tank Crashes: 'Either I Step Up or We All Die'," 21 Oct. 2019 His constituents mourned his death after awaking to the news — some calling into radio stations in tears, while others reflected on the loss his death represents to the city, state and country. Colin Campbell,, "In Baltimore, many tell Elijah Cummings stories, from offering inmates hope to helping bring calm after riots," 17 Oct. 2019 More than half a million Northern California residents awoke to darkness Wednesday morning after Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the region’s largest energy utility, began the first phase of its planned Public Safety Power Shutoff. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "California's Largest Energy Utility Is Shutting Off Power Across the State," 9 Oct. 2019 Robert and Jordan, who had recently become Comcast subcontractors after years of working on cellphone towers, left for Sterling at dawn before the rest of the family awoke. Jeff Coen,, "A suburban man lost his life — and his nephew lost his arms — from an improperly installed ComEd wire. State regulators can’t guarantee it won’t happen again.," 13 Sep. 2019 The sleeping giant in the SEC seems to have awoken. Edgar Thompson,, "2019 College Football Rankings: No. 10 Texas A&M trending up under Jimbo Fisher," 15 Aug. 2019 The multi-disciplinary artist performed at the intimate Storyville stage, facing an audience that had awoken to the news of two mass shootings in a 13-hour period. Natalie Weiner, Billboard, "Herbie Hancock & Cecile McLorin Salvant Among 9 Best Moments at 2019 Newport Jazz Festival," 5 Aug. 2019 The case, in all its apparent silliness, has awoken a longstanding conflict in France, between urban holiday-makers and the rural people who live in the country’s picturesque holiday spots all the year round. Natasha Frost, Quartzy, "A French rooster called Maurice is being sued by his neighbors," 6 July 2019 Eskom announced a series of multibillion-dollar investments after the authorities awoke to the severity of the problem in the mid-2000s, but the projects came too late and took too long to build. Washington Post, "Why Eskom’s Power Crisis Is South Africa’s Top Risk," 18 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Following a night of drinking in a ski-resort hot tub, four pals awake in 1986, getting a chance to rewrite the past. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV for Oct. 6-12: ‘Throne of Blood’ and more," 4 Oct. 2019 The Los Angeles Times reported that unnamed sources said to have knowledge of the crew’s accounts indicated none was awake on watch. Emily Deruy, The Mercury News, "Probing California dive boat Conception’s demise: what we know and what we don’t," 6 Sep. 2019 Five crew members, who were awake on the boat’s bridge at the time of the fire, were rescued by a nearby boat and brought to shore. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: ‘Very tragic’ boat fire off Southern California shoreline," 3 Sep. 2019 Later, in the final scene of the episode, Celeste jerks awake in the middle of the night during one of her most violent nightmares yet. Morgan Baila,, "Big Little Lies," 10 June 2019 The girl was also kept awake for 24 hours, on some days she wasn't fed at all, and she was tied to a dog crate by her waist and hands, police said. Mark Scolforo, Fox News, "Baby sitters accused of beatings, severe abuse over 6 days," 2 Aug. 2018 Every one of us has a running list of embarrassing moments that keep us awake at night silently blushing into our pillows and regretting the day we were born. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Shawn Mendes Ghosted James Charles on Instagram DM and It's SO Awkward," 29 July 2019 Diabetes turned my nights into minefields, tossing, turning, lying awake for hours. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Hi, I’m David. I’m a drug addict," 6 Sep. 2019 Being awake for 40+ hours will do that to you, but no one said rocket photography was easy. Trevor Mahlmann, Ars Technica, "Behind the scenes at Earth’s most beautiful rocket launch site," 25 Aug. 2019

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for awake

Verb and Adjective

Middle English awaken (from Old English awacan, onwacan, from a- entry 1, on + wacan to awake) & awakien, from Old English awacian, from a- entry 1 + wacian to be awake — more at wake

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Statistics for awake

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for awake

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

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More Definitions for awake


How to pronounce awake (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

somewhat formal : to stop sleeping : to wake up



English Language Learners Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: not asleep


\ ə-ˈwāk How to pronounce awake (audio) \
awoke\ -​ˈwōk \; awoken\ -​ˈwō-​kən \ or awaked\ -​ˈwākt \; awaking

Kids Definition of awake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stop sleeping : wake up The baby awoke from his nap.
2 : to make or become conscious or aware of something They finally awoke to the danger.



Kids Definition of awake (Entry 2 of 2)

: not asleep

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More from Merriam-Webster on awake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awake

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awake

Spanish Central: Translation of awake

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers

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