Wake vs awake

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Wake and awake are very close in their pronunciation and spelling but have a slight difference in usage. We will look at the definitions of wake and awake, their origins and some examples of their use in sentences.

Wake means to stop sleeping, to rouse from sleep, to come to life, to become alert. Wake may be used as a transitive or an intransitive verb, related words are wakes,woke, woken, wakening. Wake may also be used as a noun, especially in Ireland, to mean sitting a vigil with the body of a loved one the night before burial. Some wakes are solemn, some wakes involve a more lighthearted evening full of stories and testimonies about the deceased. In this sense, a wake is an opportunity to “wake the dead” and may have started as a way to be sure that someone was dead before he was buried. The word wake may also be used to describe the disturbed water that follows a moving ship or boat, it is sometimes is used in a figurative sense. Wake comes from the Old English suffix -wacu which means watch.

Awake also means to stop sleeping, to rouse from sleep, to come to life, to become alert. However, awake may also be used as an adjective. Related words are awakes, awaken, awakened, awakening. Awake comes from the Old English word awæcnan meaning to arise or to originate.


For more than a day, the 7-year-old girl had been trying to wake her parents. (The Washington Post)

Hizzoner’s comments came a day after Carrion said in a TV interview that the city “can’t keep every child safe” in the wake of the fatal beating of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins in Harlem. (The New York Post)

In the latest poll, conducted in October, the proportion of people who are awake by 7:15 a.m. increased from the previous survey in a wide range of age groups, including young people. (Japan Times)