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[aw] /ɔ/
an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like:
in awe of God; in awe of great political figures.
Archaic. power to inspire fear or reverence.
Obsolete. fear or dread.
verb (used with object), awed, awing.
to inspire with awe.
to influence or restrain by awe.
Origin of awe
1250-1300; Middle English aghe, awe < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse agi fear, cognate with Gothic agis, Old English ege, Greek áchos pain
Related forms
outawe, verb (used with object), outawed, outawing.
1. wonder, veneration.
1. apathy; contempt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for awing
Historical Examples
  • Nevertheless he paraded the Tory remainder of it, doubtless with the intention of awing the entire county.

    The Little Red Foot Robert W. Chambers
  • His voice was low, in an awing, confident contrast with the headlong emphasis of his movements.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • But these creations have an awing beauty; they keep an unattainable distance and height.

  • Seven days after the first brood were awing, I found the new eggs in the nest.

    The Spring of the Year Dallas Lore Sharp
  • They are ever on the move, afoot or awing; and during these three weeks of junketing, the unique courtship is carried on.

  • Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • For the first time he saw the awing vastness of the desert, and the soft pastel shades which made their desolation beautiful.

    'Me-Smith' Caroline Lockhart
  • Goold Brown has most disingenuously insinuated that the great success of my Grammar is awing wholly to extrinsic circumstances.

  • "It is my father," said she, still standing in the way and awing him by the power of her beauty.

  • The ball seemed for a time as if it were awing forever, and would fall to the ground no more.

    The Frontiersmen Charles Egbert Craddock
British Dictionary definitions for awing


overwhelming wonder, admiration, respect, or dread
(archaic) power to inspire fear or reverence
(transitive) to inspire with reverence or dread
Derived Forms
aweless, (US) awless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse agi; related to Gothic agis fear, Greek akhesthai to be grieved
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for awing

"action of inspiring with awe," 1650s, verbal noun from awe (v.).



c.1300, earlier aghe, c.1200, from a Scandinavian source, e.g. Old Norse agi "fright;" from Proto-Germanic *agiz- (cf. Old English ege "fear," Old High German agiso "fright, terror," Gothic agis "fear, anguish"), from PIE *agh-es- (cf. Greek akhos "pain, grief"), from root *agh- "to be depressed, be afraid" (see ail). Current sense of "dread mixed with veneration" is due to biblical use with reference to the Supreme Being. Awe-inspiring is recorded from 1814.


c.1300, from awe (n.); Old English had egan (v.). Related: Awed; awing.



c.1300, from awe (n.); Old English had egan (v.). Related: Awed; awing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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