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.
Recent Examples on the Web
As the sound of the quick little thumping fills the room, Liz and Brice's eyes fill with awe. Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 14 May 2024 Ultimately, poetry for me is a celebration of the bestest and the goodest, snippets of praise in awe of, and for the gifts of, the Divine. Monitor Contributing Poets, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for awe 

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 22 May. 2024.

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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