an act or instance of waking up.
an act or instance of being awakened: I asked the hotel desk for a wake-up at 6.
a time of awaking or being awakened: I'll need a 5 o'clock wake-up to make the early plane.


serving to wake one from sleep: Tell the front desk you want a wake-up call.
serving to arouse or alert: a wake-up call on the problems of pollution.

Nearby words

  1. waka,
  2. wakamatsu,
  3. wakame,
  4. wakashan,
  5. wakayama,
  6. wake island,
  7. wake-robin,
  8. wake-up,
  9. wake-up call,
  10. wakeboarding

Origin of wake-up

First recorded in 1835–45; noun, adj. use of verb phrase wake up



verb (used without object), waked or woke, waked or wok·en, wak·ing.

to become roused from sleep; awake; awaken; waken (often followed by up).
to become roused from a tranquil or inactive state; awaken; waken: to wake from one's daydreams.
to become cognizant or aware of something; awaken; waken: to wake to the true situation.
to be or continue to be awake: Whether I wake or sleep, I think of you.
to remain awake for some purpose, duty, etc.: I will wake until you return.
to hold a wake over a corpse.
to keep watch or vigil.

verb (used with object), waked or woke, waked or wok·en, wak·ing.

to rouse from sleep; awake; awaken; waken (often followed by up): Don't wake me for breakfast. Wake me up at six o'clock.
to rouse from lethargy, apathy, ignorance, etc. (often followed by up): The tragedy woke us up to the need for safety precautions.
to hold a wake for or over (a dead person).
to keep watch or vigil over.


a watching, or a watch kept, especially for some solemn or ceremonial purpose.
a watch or vigil by the body of a dead person before burial, sometimes accompanied by feasting or merrymaking.
a local annual festival in England, formerly held in honor of the patron saint or on the anniversary of the dedication of a church but now usually having little or no religious significance.
the state of being awake: between sleep and wake.

Origin of wake

before 900; (v.) in sense “to become awake” continuing Middle English waken, Old English *wacan (found only in past tense wōc and the compounds onwacan, āwacan to become awake; see awake (v.)); in sense “to be awake” continuing Middle English waken, Old English wacian (cognate with Old Frisian wakia, Old Saxon wakōn, Old Norse vaka, Gothic wakan); in sense “to rouse from sleep” continuing Middle English waken, replacing Middle English wecchen, Old English weccan, probably altered by association with the other senses and with the k of Old Norse vaka; (noun) Middle English: state of wakefulness, vigil (late Middle English: vigil over a dead body), probably continuing Old English *wacu (found only in nihtwacu night-watch); all ultimately < Germanic *wak- be lively; akin to watch, vegetable, vigil

1. sleep.

Related formswak·er, nounhalf-wak·ing, adjectiveun·waked, adjectiveun·wak·ing, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wake-up

British Dictionary definitions for wake-up



Australian informal an alert or intelligent person
be a wake-up to Australian informal to be fully alert to (a person, thing, action, etc)



verb wakes, waking, woke or woken

(often foll by up) to rouse or become roused from sleep
(often foll by up) to rouse or become roused from inactivity
(intr; often foll by to or up to) to become conscious or awareat last he woke to the situation
(intr) to be or remain awake
(tr) to arouse (feelings etc)
dialect to hold a wake over (a corpse)
archaic, or dialect to keep watch over
wake up and smell the coffee informal to face up to reality, especially in an unpleasant situation


a watch or vigil held over the body of a dead person during the night before burial
(in Ireland) festivities held after a funeral
the patronal or dedication festival of English parish churches
a solemn or ceremonial vigil
(usually plural) an annual holiday in any of various towns in northern England, when the local factory or factories close, usually for a week or two weeks
rare the state of being awake
Derived Formswaker, noun

Word Origin for wake

Old English wacian; related to Old Frisian wakia, Old High German wahtēn


Where there is an object and the sense is the literal one wake (up) and waken are the commonest forms: I wakened him; I woke him (up). Both verbs are also commonly used without an object: I woke up . Awake and awaken are preferred to other forms of wake where the sense is a figurative one: he awoke to the danger




the waves or track left by a vessel or other object moving through water
the track or path left by anything that has passedwrecked houses in the wake of the hurricane

Word Origin for wake

C16: of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse vaka, vök hole cut in ice, Swedish vak, Danish vaage; perhaps related to Old Norse vökr, Middle Dutch wak wet

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 wake-up
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for wake-up


A funeral celebration, common in Ireland, at which the participants stay awake all night keeping watch over the body of the dead person before burial. A wake traditionally involves a good deal of feasting and drinking.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wake-up


In addition to the idioms beginning with wake

, also see

  • in the wake of
  • to wake the dead


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.