• synonyms


  1. 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.
  2. Archaic. power to inspire fear or reverence.
  3. Obsolete. fear or dread.
Show More
verb (used with object), awed, aw·ing.
  1. to inspire with awe.
  2. to influence or restrain by awe.
Show More

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 formsout·awe, verb (used with object), out·awed, out·aw·ing.



Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for awes

Historical Examples

  • But the sight, though it awes us, does not depress us or deter us.

    The Heart of Nature

    Francis Younghusband

  • Surely it can't be merely his habit;——there's something in him that awes me.

  • Hence, while the one pleases, the other awes and subdues us.

  • Then comes the dark cell, an experience which awes the boldest.


    Rolf Boldrewood

  • The majesty of Night is so contagious, it awes, it inspires.


    Honore de Balzac

British Dictionary definitions for awes


  1. overwhelming wonder, admiration, respect, or dread
  2. archaic power to inspire fear or reverence
Show More
  1. (tr) to inspire with reverence or dread
Show More
Derived Formsaweless or 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

Word Origin and History for awes



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.

Show More



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

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper