\ 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

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

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 In the first incident, the victim awoke to a noise between midnight and 2 a.m. Aug. 15. Bob Sandrick,, "Man throws patio chairs in yard on Grosse Drive; two dogs attack another dog on Stonecrest Drive: Brook Park police blotter," 29 Aug. 2019 The first crew member awoke in the wheelhouse to a noise and got up to investigate, the NTSB said. Matthias Gafni,, "Conception fire: All crew members asleep when deadly fire erupted, report says," 12 Sep. 2019 Just as the poster and the trailer give little away, there is a drowsy slowness to the first half-hour of the film as the crew awake from hypersleep to answer a distress call. J.b., The Economist, "Forty years later, “Alien” remains at the apex of sci-fi horror films," 5 Sep. 2019 Scottie Wilbekin, who played four years of college ball for Florida and got his Turkish passport last year, fueled a 12-0 run that awoke the pro-Turkey crowd of 18,000 at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. Tim Reynolds,, "US barely beats Turkey, lifted by Kemba Walker’s overtime performance," 3 Sep. 2019 After the two drift off to sleep, Elsa is awoken by the hymn that’s been nagging at her. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, "‘Frozen 2' new footage revealed. It’s dazzling," 24 Aug. 2019 Jonathan Reyes, 22, was taken into custody Monday after the baby’s mother awoke from a nap to find the infant with visible injuries to his face and body, said Cpl. Los Angeles Times, "Father arrested after 13-day-old baby was savagely beaten and drugged, police say," 22 Aug. 2019 Her father, a college journalism instructor named Claude Snelling, awoke and spotted her through his kitchen window. Tribune News Service,, "The Man in the Window: First the burglaries; then the dogs started dying (Part Two)," 22 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Mayock, who was cut by the Steelers, joined the New York Giants in 1982 and as a rookie was given the job of making sure Lawrence Taylor was awake for meetings. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Mayock and Gruden’s mirror images in football philosophy began with burgers and beer," 22 Aug. 2019 San Francisco General Hospital recently changed a controversial policy at the psychiatric emergency room intended to keep patients awake and shorten their visits, so the unit could keep up with its overwhelming demand. Dominic Fracassa,, "SF General relaxes policy that tries to keep psychiatric ER patients awake to shorten visits," 28 Aug. 2019 Lowering the car window will keep you awake while driving. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Sleep Myths and The Truth About Them," 24 July 2019 Research suggests that some cannabinoids may, in fact, increase focus, suppress appetite and keep users awake. Amanda Chicago Lewis, WSJ, "Not Everybody Must Get Stoned: Pot’s Nonintoxicating Future," 25 Oct. 2018 As dawn breaks, a long-haul trucker may be munching sunflower seeds and sipping cold tea to stay awake, while a driving partner dozes on a bunk bed. The Economist, "China’s long-distance lorry drivers are unsung heroes of its economy," 12 Sep. 2019 The storm provided a grand show for anyone who stayed awake to watch — and likely roused some of the light sleepers among us. oregonlive, "Lightning strikes abound in Portland area: Your videos, photos," 29 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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Dictionary Entries near awake








Statistics for awake

Last Updated

14 Oct 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 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

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 wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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