[woh-kuh n]
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verb (used without object), waked or woke, waked or wok·en, wak·ing.
  1. to become roused from sleep; awake; awaken; waken (often followed by up).
  2. to become roused from a tranquil or inactive state; awaken; waken: to wake from one's daydreams.
  3. to become cognizant or aware of something; awaken; waken: to wake to the true situation.
  4. to be or continue to be awake: Whether I wake or sleep, I think of you.
  5. to remain awake for some purpose, duty, etc.: I will wake until you return.
  6. to hold a wake over a corpse.
  7. to keep watch or vigil.
verb (used with object), waked or woke, waked or wok·en, wak·ing.
  1. to rouse from sleep; awake; awaken; waken (often followed by up): Don't wake me for breakfast. Wake me up at six o'clock.
  2. to rouse from lethargy, apathy, ignorance, etc. (often followed by up): The tragedy woke us up to the need for safety precautions.
  3. to hold a wake for or over (a dead person).
  4. to keep watch or vigil over.
  1. a watching, or a watch kept, especially for some solemn or ceremonial purpose.
  2. a watch or vigil by the body of a dead person before burial, sometimes accompanied by feasting or merrymaking.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
Related formswak·er, nounhalf-wak·ing, adjectiveun·waked, adjectiveun·wak·ing, adjective

Synonyms for wake

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Antonyms for wake

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

Examples from the Web for woken

Contemporary Examples of woken

Historical Examples of woken

  • I was woken up by a wet kiss planted on my lips by Isabel's husband.

  • At eleven he had woken with a start, and, hardening his heart, had gone back to his sermon.

    Saint's Progress

    John Galsworthy

  • It was as though he had woken up, his real self; then—lost that self again.

    The Dark Flower

    John Galsworthy

  • A quarter of an hour afterwards Julien pretended to have just woken up.

  • On the way to Irkutsk I slept for fifty-eight versts, and was only once woken up.

British Dictionary definitions for woken


  1. a past participle of wake 1


verb wakes, waking, woke or woken
  1. (often foll by up) to rouse or become roused from sleep
  2. (often foll by up) to rouse or become roused from inactivity
  3. (intr; often foll by to or up to) to become conscious or awareat last he woke to the situation
  4. (intr) to be or remain awake
  5. (tr) to arouse (feelings etc)
  6. dialect to hold a wake over (a corpse)
  7. archaic, or dialect to keep watch over
  8. wake up and smell the coffee informal to face up to reality, especially in an unpleasant situation
  1. a watch or vigil held over the body of a dead person during the night before burial
  2. (in Ireland) festivities held after a funeral
  3. the patronal or dedication festival of English parish churches
  4. a solemn or ceremonial vigil
  5. (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
  6. 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


  1. the waves or track left by a vessel or other object moving through water
  2. 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 woken



"state of wakefulness," Old English -wacu (as in nihtwacu "night watch"), related to watch; and partly from Old Norse vaka "vigil, eve before a feast," related to vaka "be awake" (cf. Old High German wahta "watch, vigil," Middle Dutch wachten "to watch, guard;" see wake (v.)). Meaning "a sitting up at night with a corpse" is attested from early 15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-13c.). The custom largely survived as an Irish activity. Wakeman (c.1200), which survives as a surname, was Middle English for "watchman."



"to become awake," Old English wacan "to become awake," also from wacian "to be or remain awake," both from Proto-Germanic *waken (cf. Old Saxon wakon, Old Norse vaka, Danish vaage, Old Frisian waka, Dutch waken, Old High German wahhen, German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch"), from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively" (cf. Sanskrit vajah "force, swiftness, race, prize," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vegere, vigere "to be live, be active, quicken," vigil "awake, wakeful," vigor "liveliness, activity"). Causative sense "to rouse from sleep" is attested from c.1300. Related: Waked; waking. Phrase wake-up call is attested from 1976, originally a call one received from the hotel desk in the morning.



"track left by a moving ship," 1540s, perhaps from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch wake "hole in the ice," from Old Norse vok, vaka "hole in the ice," from Proto-Germanic *wakwo. The sense perhaps evolved via "track made by a vessel through ice." Perhaps the English word is directly from Scandinavian. Figurative phrase in the wake of "following close behind" is recorded from 1806.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

woken in Culture


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 woken


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.