Middle English awakenen, from Old English awæcnan (intransitive), "to spring into being, arise, originate," also, less often, "to wake up;" earlier onwæcnan, from a- (1) "on" + wæcnan (see waken). The transitive meaning "to rouse from sleep" is recorded from 1510s; the figurative sense of "stir up, rouse to activity" is from c. 1600.
Originally with a strong declension (past tense awoc, past participle awacen), already in Old English it was confused with awake (v.) and a weak past tense awæcnede (modern awakened) emerged and has since become the accepted form, with awoke and awoken transferred to awake. Subtle shades of distinction determine the use of awake or awaken in modern English. For distinctions of usage, see wake (v.). Related: Awakening.
updated on October 01, 2022