What Does ‘Woke’ Stand For? Woke’s Defintion and More

Photo Courtesy: [Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

What Does ‘Woke’ Stand For? Woke’s Defintion and More

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re awake. The word “awake” comes from two Old English roots: “āwæcnan,” which means "to arise," and āwacian, which means "to revive." As you may know, words and language are always changing. This rings true for the word “awake,” especially when it comes to its past tense form “woke.”

You may see the term “woke” used more and more in everyday language. Typically, “woke” was just used as a verb in past tense. (I.e. “I woke up like this.”) But now, “woke” is used as an adjective, a word that describes people and things. “Woke” doesn’t stand for anything the way an acronym like scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) or laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) do. Instead, “woke” is more of an enhanced, evolved version of its parent word. To define “woke,” it’s important to acknowledge the history of the people who coined it.

Whether online or in person, use of “woke” has increased steadily over time. Looking at trends on Google, use of “woke” went way up in 2013 and its use only increased in the following years. So, what does “woke” actually mean? We’re here to break down woke’s definition and more.