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
In a 2021 interview with Glamour, Dynevor voiced her awe at being cast in the first season of Bridgerton, which, at the time, Netflix said was watched by 63 million households. Stephanie McNeal, Glamour, 8 Feb. 2024 Arriving at a studio space to see the latest figure, Visage immediately expressed her awe. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 6 Feb. 2024 Ultimately, their writing offers a precise accounting of how their awe for the natural world became their most honest and reliable method to heal. Emma Copley Eisenberg, The Atlantic, 23 Jan. 2024 Tanya Tucker, Patti LaBelle and More Female Icons Are Celebrated on CMT Special 'Smashing Glass' Audiences aren’t the only ones in awe of the Trotters’ vocal abilities. Nancy Kruh, Peoplemag, 26 Jan. 2024 Social media users were left in awe by the encounter. Moira Ritter, Sacramento Bee, 26 Jan. 2024 Carmel spoke with awe and play experts to uncover the secret of how to go back to a childhood state where falling rain seemed like magic and the tooth fairy might be real. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2024 Both grew up reading or seeing Cruz’s plays and seem a little in awe of working with him. Christine Dolen, Miami Herald, 23 Jan. 2024 What our commentator comes away with is a sense of love and awe. Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Jan. 2024
People travel there to be awed by the immensity of nature. Jen Murphy, Travel + Leisure, 19 Jan. 2024 Dinosaur giants evolved again and again We’re often awed by the giant size of many dinosaurs, especially the long-necked, plant-eating sauropods like Patagotitan and Argentinosaurus. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Dec. 2023 The Geminids will peak Wednesday night into Thursday morning under near optimal moon conditions The Geminid meteor shower awes sky watchers around the world every December—but this year promises a particularly spectacular show as the meteors streak across an exceptionally dark sky. Aylin Woodward, WSJ, 12 Dec. 2023 Like everyone else, I’ve been awed by what these powerful models can create. Zohar Bronfman, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Erik’s Take There has been a lot of money flowing into low carbon footprint cement manufacturers lately, but the elegance of Eco Material’s solution awes me. Erik Kobayashi-Solomon, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Employees were awed by a huge spike in Mother’s Day sales, the first big pandemic gift-giving holiday, and glowing press rolled in. Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2023 Looking across the Serengeti at herds of honking wildebeest, most of us would be awed by the exuberance of these migrating masses, resplendent in their magnitude. Amy Brady, Scientific American, 17 Oct. 2023 Inside, guests will be awed by the double-height foyer, which displays forged iron work, original tile floors and a grand staircase. James McClain, Robb Report, 10 Oct. 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 23 Feb. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on awe

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!