wake (v.)

"to become awake," a Middle English merger of Old English wacan "to become awake, arise, be born, originate," and Old English wacian "to be or remain awake," both from Proto-Germanic *wakjanan (source also of 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."

Causative sense "to rouse from sleep" is attested from c. 1300. It has past tense woke, rarely waked (and that usually in the transitive sense) and past participle waked, rarely woke or woken. Related: Waking.

These usage guides for awake, awaken, wake, waken are distilled from those in Fowler and Century Dictionary:

1. Wake is the ordinary working verb; it alone has the sense "be or remain awake" (chiefly in waking).

2. Awake and awaken are chiefly used in figurative or transferred applications (A rude awakening).

3. Waken and awaken tend to be restricted to the transitive sense, awake being preferred in the senses related to arousing from actual sleep.

4. In the passive, awaken and waken are preferred, perhaps owing to uncertainty about the past participle of forms of awake and wake. (The colloquial 2010s use of woke in relation to political and social awareness is an exception.)

5. Up is commonly used with wake, but rarely with the others.

wake (n.1)

"track left by a moving ship," 1540s, perhaps from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch wake "hole in the ice," from Old Norse vök, 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 use (such as in the wake of "following close behind") is recorded from 1806.

wake (n.2)

"state of wakefulness," Old English -wacu (in nihtwacu "night watch"), related to watch (n.); and partly from Old Norse vaka "vigil, eve before a feast" (which is related to vaka "be awake" and cognate with Old High German wahta "watch, vigil," Middle Dutch wachten "to watch, guard"), from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively." Meaning "a sitting up at night with a corpse" is attested from early 15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-13c.; as a noun lichwake is from late 14c.). The custom largely survived as an Irish activity. Wakeman (c. 1200), which survives as a surname, was Middle English for "watchman."

updated on February 25, 2020

Definitions of wake from WordNet
wake (v.)
be awake, be alert, be there;
wake (v.)
stop sleeping;
She woke up to the sound of the alarm clock
Synonyms: wake up / awake / arouse / awaken / come alive / waken
wake (v.)
arouse or excite feelings and passions;
Synonyms: inflame / stir up / ignite / heat / fire up
wake (v.)
make aware of;
His words woke us to terrible facts of the situation
wake (v.)
cause to become awake or conscious;
Please wake me at 6 AM.
Synonyms: awaken / waken / rouse / wake up / arouse
wake (n.)
the consequences of an event (especially a catastrophic event);
in the wake of the accident no one knew how many had been injured
Synonyms: aftermath / backwash
wake (n.)
the wave that spreads behind a boat as it moves forward;
the motorboat's wake capsized the canoe
Synonyms: backwash
wake (n.)
a vigil held over a corpse the night before burial;
there's no weeping at an Irish wake
Synonyms: viewing
Wake (n.)
an island in the western Pacific between Guam and Hawaii;
Synonyms: Wake Island
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.