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, aw·ing.

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

Synonyms for awe

Antonyms for awe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for awing

Historical Examples of awing

  • His voice was low, in an awing, confident contrast with the headlong emphasis of his movements.

    End of the Tether

    Joseph Conrad

  • Goold Brown has most disingenuously insinuated that the great success of my Grammar is awing wholly to extrinsic circumstances.

  • But these creations have an awing beauty; they keep an unattainable distance and height.

  • Nevertheless he paraded the Tory remainder of it, doubtless with the intention of awing the entire county.

    The Little Red Foot

    Robert W. Chambers

  • 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


(tr) to inspire with reverence or dread
Derived Formsaweless or US awless, adjective

Word Origin for awe

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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper