1 of 2


woker; wokest
chiefly US slang
: aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)
But we will only succeed if we reject the growing pressure to retreat into cynicism and hopelessness. … We have a moral obligation to "stay woke," take a stand and be active; challenging injustices and racism in our communities and fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises.Barbara Lee
… argued that … Brad Pitt is not only woke, but the wokest man in Hollywood … because he uses his status—and his production company Plan B—to create space for artists of color, with such films as 12 Years a Slave, Selma, and the upcoming film Moonlight.Giselle Defares
Being woke to gender discrimination is difficult; it ruins things you love. Entire canons of art are rotten to the core with it.Rachel Edelstein
often used in contexts that suggest someone's expressed beliefs about such matters are not backed with genuine concern or action
There is never really a moment where a person of color doesn't have to deal with discrimination, whether it be veiled and passive or as blunt as possible. So, woke white people, why can't you step in?Lauren Sanchez
Enter the age of the performatively woke brand. Politics has become a kind of fashion accessory for corporate America these days, a way to profit from protest.Jon Gingerich
"Fake woke" behavior arises. We put the hashtags on our social media. #Sayhername, #icantbreathe, #blacklivesmatter. And repeat. The problem is that the level of concern we express online doesn't match the everyday behavior we exhibit.Surayya Walters
: reflecting the attitudes of woke people
woke values/language
In our newly woke times, there has been increased scrutiny of old films dealing with sensitive subjects.Hannah Jane Parkinson
He wants to make The Wombles more "woke" so the characters are gender-fluid or of different races.Liz Perkins
disapproving : politically liberal or progressive (as in matters of racial and social justice) especially in a way that is considered unreasonable or extreme
The national conservatives view today's liberals as woke cultural warriors who pose an existential threat to the nation and its traditions.Shadi Hamid
He's built a social media brand on the right railing against "woke liberals" and supporting former President Donald Trump.Marissa Martinez
The military is struggling to find new recruits to fill its ranks. … While the official reasons given by the military—including fewer face-to-face recruitments during the pandemic, and fewer young people who meet the physical standards required—likely play a role, some say it's because the military is too "woke," turning off its normal constituency of young, conservative recruits.Suzanne Bates
If there is any hope, it's that voters are rejecting woke green goals. Already this has occurred in Sweden and Italy, where voters threw out left-wing governments …Michael Shellenberger
'Woke capitalism' tends to be a term that critics use to refer to … portfolios that are built around environmental, social and governance issues like climate change or diversity.Victor Reklaitis


2 of 2

past tense and past participle of wake

Examples of woke in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Besides borders, taxes, regulations, reducing the national debt, education, and economics: Stop the woke trends and protests exceeding free speech (destruction of property and assault) Restore law and order. Laura Gersony, The Arizona Republic, 9 July 2024 And once these are turned into states and are represented by two senators each in the U.S. Senate, the agenda of the Democratic Party, the agenda of modern progressivism and of woke democracy, could be enacted into law, mirabile dictu. Charles Kesler, National Review, 20 June 2024 This means rejecting bullying on race, class, and gender, the three horsemen of the woke apocalypse. Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 9 Jan. 2024 The Supreme Court struck a blow against government pressure on corporations to go woke. Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 30 May 2024 But what about Marvel fans after some of these quotes about Disney going too woke? Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2024 Even Disney executives are learning the limits of their woke activism. Chris Roemer, Baltimore Sun, 6 Jan. 2024 The New Right coalesced as part of a backlash against the woke excesses of the recent past—but railing against wokeness is always faintly embarrassing. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 This combative, defiant spirit—refusing to be canceled, never backing down, standing up to the woke mob—animates Average Joe. Charles McCrary, The New Republic, 3 Nov. 2023

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

Word History



from past participle of wake entry 1

First Known Use


1972, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of woke was in 1972

Dictionary Entries Near woke

Cite this Entry

“Woke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2

past and past participle of wake


2 of 2 adjective
chiefly US slang
: aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues especially of racial and social injustice
: politically liberal (as in matters of racial and social justice) especially in a way that is considered extreme
used disapprovingly

More from Merriam-Webster on woke

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