See more synonyms for wake-up on Thesaurus.com
  1. an act or instance of waking up.
  2. an act or instance of being awakened: I asked the hotel desk for a wake-up at 6.
  3. a time of awaking or being awakened: I'll need a 5 o'clock wake-up to make the early plane.
  4. flicker2.
  1. serving to wake one from sleep: Tell the front desk you want a wake-up call.
  2. serving to arouse or alert: a wake-up call on the problems of pollution.

Origin of wake-up

First recorded in 1835–45; noun, adj. use of verb phrase wake up
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wake-up call

admonition, advisory, caveat, hint, lesson, message, moral, omen, portent, warning, forewarning

British Dictionary definitions for wake-up call

wake-up call

  1. a telephone call that wakes a person from sleep
  2. an event that alerts people to a danger or difficulty


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

Idioms and Phrases with wake-up call

wake-up call

A portentous event, report, or situation that brings an issue to immediate attention. For example, The rise in unemployment has given a wake-up call to state governments, or The success of the online subscription is a wake-up call to publishers. This metaphoric term originated in the second half of the 1900s for a telephone call arranged in advance to awaken a sleeper, especially in a hotel. Its figurative use dates from about 1990.

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