1 of 2


: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime
stood in awe of the king
regard nature's wonders with awe
: the power to inspire dread


2 of 2


awed; awing; awes

transitive verb

: to inspire or fill with awe
We were awed by the beauty of the mountains.

Examples of awe in a Sentence

Noun Clem gasped in awe. Inches from the shelf stood a column of scrimshaw the likes of which he'd never seen. Al Michaud, Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2005
I expected to be impressed by Machu Picchu, but now that we're here, standing in the clouds atop the world, I'm more than impressed—I'm in awe. Machu Picchu is actually better than photographs suggest, more a timeless way station than archaeological ruin. Patrick J. Kelly, Traveler, May/June 2005
Organs began to appear in American churches early in the eighteenth century. Their glorious tones promised to harmonize cacophonous congregational singers and to inspire worshippers with a reverential sense of awe, bestirring them to moral improvement. Jonathan D. Sarna, American Judaism, 2004
It was a sight that filled me with awe and reverence. a person who inspires feelings of awe in others Verb Most relative neophytes are so awed by having been accepted into the priesthood of specialty medicine and so reluctant to cause themselves trouble in the institutions in which they will work for the coming decades that they would be hesitant to risk offending their seniors. Sherwin B. Nuland, New York Review of Books, 18 July 2002
But even non-birders cannot help but be awed by the significance of the habitat. All around us creatures dart and dive; birds attracted by fish and water, birds drawn by seeds and chaff. Birds with silly names: loons, boobies, cuckoos, goatsuckers. Clara Jeffery, Harper's, November 2002
Her style both awes and perplexes me. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
While space travel comes with stressors and the potential for loneliness, astronauts describe experiencing an overview effect: a sense of awe and connectedness with all humankind. Rachael Seidler, Discover Magazine, 22 Sep. 2023 Scholars often argue that the draw of UFOs in American popular culture signals something about us: our awe of technology, for instance, or our worry about our inability to control it. The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Sep. 2023 It was met with a mixture of awe and anxiety, with politicians and medical ethicists calling for an immediate ban on human cloning. Amanda Holpuch,, 12 Sep. 2023 Many in the stands were in awe of how the Mavericks played against a talented team. Timothy Dashiell, Baltimore Sun, 12 Sep. 2023 A lot of thumbnails feature a person with an open mouth in shock, awe, excitement, or horror because of a belief that the open-mouth face entices people to click on a video. Jay Peters, The Verge, 6 Sep. 2023 In awe of my partner @roxyhorner who has been amazing throughout this journey and is going to be the greatest mum ever. Hannah Sacks, Peoplemag, 6 Sep. 2023 His other tricks left the judges in awe and the audience cheering. Tommy Cummings, Dallas News, 5 Sep. 2023 When the cyclist Lance Armstrong walked in, one of his comrades was in awe. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, 28 Aug. 2023
On top of that, visitors will be awed by the gorgeous views of Lake Superior — and the 120 inches of lake-effect snow that falls here each year is just a bonus. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 23 Sep. 2023 The sightings in the Mid-Atlantic come just a day after a fireball awed sky watchers in Erzurum, Turkey, the scene of this video: NEW VIDEO! Check out the moment a meteor lit up the night sky with a greenish hue in Erzurum, Turkey! Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2023 Then a policymaker with Washington state’s Health Care Authority, Albright was awed by the importance of the looming rewrite of U.S. health care rules. Cezary Podkul, ProPublica, 14 Aug. 2023 Rebuilt in grand Gothic style in the 13th century by Henry III in honor of Edward, Westminster Abbey is a place designed to awe. Kelly Faircloth, Curbed, 5 May 2023 During a game in 2018, then-Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson saw Waller warming up on the field and was awed by the combination of his 6-foot-6, 255-pound size and athleticism. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2023 Enter Email Sign Up Schlossberg also came away from the experience awed by his famous grandad’s courage in the face of great peril. Travis Andersen,, 3 Aug. 2023 Shortly after the fair began, Ronald E. Hampton stopped by Alston’s station, awed by the mother’s work over the last few years. Heidi Pérez-Moreno, Washington Post, 29 July 2023 Exhausted with the effort of communicating, and awed by the participants’ competence and commitment, my emotions ran high. Natasha Frost, New York Times, 19 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'awe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English aw, awe, ahe "terror, dread, extreme reverence, veneration, something to be feared, danger," borrowed from Old Norse agi, accusative aga "terror, uproar," n-stem derivative from a Germanic base *ag- seen in the s-stem noun *agaz (whence Old English ege "fear, terror" [with assimilation to i-stems], Gothic agis) and a verbal derivative *agisōjan- (whence Old High German egisōn "to fear," Middle Dutch eisen) and a corresponding noun derivative *agisan- (whence Old English egesa, egsa "fear, terror," Old Saxon egiso, Old High German agiso, egiso); Germanic *agaz perhaps going back to Indo-European *h2egh-os, whence also Greek áchos "pain, distress"

Note: Germanic also has a verb *agan-, exemplified by the Gothic Class VI preterite-present ogan "to fear" (from a presumed reduplicated perfect) and the adjective unagands "fearless"; the verb has been compared with Old Irish adˑágadar "(s/he) frightens," and (despite the semantic gap) Greek áchnymai, achnýnai "to grieve, lament." See also etymology and note at ail entry 1.


Middle English awen "to terrify, overawe," derivative of awe "terror, awe entry 1"

First Known Use


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of awe was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near awe

Cite this Entry

“Awe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a feeling of mixed fear, respect, and wonder


2 of 2 verb
awed; awing
: to fill with awe

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