\ ə-ˈwāk \
awoke\ -​ˈwōk \ also awaked\ -​ˈwākt \; awoken\ -​ˈwō-​kən \ 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

arouse, awaken, knock up [British], rouse, wake, waken

Synonyms: Adjective

insomniac, sleepless, wakeful, wide-awake

Antonyms: Verb


Antonyms: Adjective

asleep, dormant, dozing, napping, resting, sleeping, slumbering, unawakened

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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


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.


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

They were awoken by their pitbull, Luna, and flames were already burning the home next door. Tamara Lush, The Seattle Times, "Tragedy survivors reflect on Thanksgiving after year of loss," 21 Nov. 2018 According to a criminal complaint and Greendale police report: Sometime around 2:45 a.m., the victim was awoken by Grills standing over her in her bedroom along the 6600 block of Greenway on June 9. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Greendale woman feared for her life during kidnapping," 26 June 2018 In 2013, an 18-year-old girl went into a coma shortly after undergoing breast augmentation at the Coral Gables Cosmetic Center and awoke with brain damage. David Smiley, miamiherald, "He represents cosmetic surgery centers that maimed clients. And he wants your vote. | Miami Herald," 25 Apr. 2018 Johnson, 43, told The Oregonian/OregonLive Monday that he and his wife were awoken by the gunfire last week. Everton Bailey Jr.,, "Shooting suspect tells cops gunfire was retaliation for 2017 death, records show," 23 Apr. 2018 Luis, who is a U.S. citizen, has awoken in the night with a pounding heart after nightmares about Rosa being taken away. Time, "'No One Is Safe.' How Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Splitting Families Apart," 8 Mar. 2018 Ultron, the former peacekeeping AI awoken by Tony Stark, appears more hellbent than ever on destroying the Avengers in this preview. Ramy, Popular Mechanics, "The Third 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Trailer Teases a New Superhero," 4 Mar. 2015 No more getting tempted by texts after bedtime or awoken by update notifications. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How 17 Stressed-Out Millennials Make Home a Peaceful Place to Escape When the News Is Just Too Much," 19 Nov. 2018 One month ago, on Saturday, August 25, the 1,200 or so residents of Mayo awoke to find themselves in a strange new world. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Mayo, Florida Was Just Renamed for a Different Condiment," 24 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There, protesters banged pots and pans and played recordings of crying children separated from their parents at the Mexican border in an attempt to keep him awake. Ceylan Yeginsu, New York Times, "London’s ‘Trump Baby’ Balloon Flies as Protests Take Off Across U.K.," 13 July 2018 Speaking to media from the town of Nelson, Ardern’s parents Ross and Laurell Ardern said the baby had been very active during the night and had kept their daughter awake. Washington Post, "After giving birth, New Zealand leader craves mac-n-cheese," 22 June 2018 But the latter is released at a preordained time and place, and so gives no first-mover advantage to whomever happened to be awake and on Twitter at 7:21 Eastern Time Friday morning. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Hypes Jobs Report Hour Before It’s Released," 1 June 2018 No amount of prayer or caffeine was keeping him awake. Tod Leonard,, "Movie recounts baseball broadcaster's gutsy, harrowing bike race across America," 18 May 2018 The hip-house pop song has a dark tone to it to keep everyone awake, and Peking Duk absolutely nails the production. Gab Ginsberg, Billboard, "AlunaGeorge's 10 Greatest Songs: Critic's Picks," 26 Apr. 2018 The new Reggie offers Archie drugs to help keep him awake. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Riverdale Season 2 Episode 2 Provides Dark Deeds and Drug Deals," 19 Oct. 2017 The discomfort your full stomach causes can end up keeping you awake. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "9 Life-Changing Hacks to Help You Fall Asleep Faster," 16 Feb. 2016 That electoral math should keep GOP strategists awake at night. Ryan Costello, WSJ, "Lesson From 2018: Republicans Must Deal With Climate Change," 7 Jan. 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

18 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for awake

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

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More Definitions for awake



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 \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awake

Spanish Central: Translation of awake

Nglish: Translation of awake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awake for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awake

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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