Awe is something that almost everyone is familiar with. Here is the meaning of awe, what it feels like, and how to use the word properly!
There are so many incredible natural wonders in the world around us. Mountains, forests, and other natural landmarks make people feel small yet incredibly blessed to be where they are. You’ve probably felt overwhelmed by emotion if you’ve been to the Grand Canyon and looked into its massive depth, length, and design. In a nutshell, what you experience in those moments is a sense of awe.
This particular feeling of amazement, fear, wonder, and curiosity is what makes up this specific feeling. It’s not always easy to say precisely what you’re thinking, and that’s why the word awe exists — to communicate feelings and expressions that can’t really be explained.
Awe is one of the most powerful words in the world when used to describe someone, something, or somewhere. Learning how to use it effectively can increase the viability and power of your own language. This is what awe means, where the word comes from, and how to use it in the most effective ways possible!
What Does Awe Mean?
The definition of awe is a feeling of respect and reverence mixed in with unexplainable amazement (and occasionally fear).
If you look up into the sky at night and think about all of the millions of stars in the sky, you will likely experience feelings of awe. If you meet a celebrity who you look up to, the feelings you experience probably include some examples of awe. If you read a book that fills you with wonder and reverence, the book is likely awe-inspiring.
If you were to look in a thesaurus for synonyms for the word awe, the odds are good that most of them wouldn’t be able to capture the whole specific nature of the word. However, some popular synonyms include:
While these words don’t generally capture that specific combination of esteem and fear that awe does, you can use them to help give yourself a better understanding of what the word means.
Where Does the Word Awe Come From?
Even though the word awe is just three letters with one syllable, it still has a long history. The modern American English word is similar to many other words, thanks to its extensive history in many different languages over time.
The first roots of awe are found in the Greek áchos, which means “pain” or “distress.” This word captured the more fearful aspects of our current definition of awe. As Ancient Greek became a common language throughout the ancient world, the word spread into many different languages, taking on all kinds of forms and spellings. Many Scandinavian and European languages took this word and incorporated it into their own vernaculars.
As time went on, two languages formed the word into more similar forms to what we see today. The Old English Ege, Gothic Agis, and Old Norse Agi started to capture that feeling of fear and amazement that the word is known for today. Around the time that Middle English was becoming more popular, the word took on the form of Age, which slowly transitioned into the word awe.
How to Use Awe in the Modern World
Awe is a word that is less commonly used today, but it can communicate some very intense meanings when used within the proper context.
Over the years, the word was deeply incorporated into the church and other religious belief systems. Its reverent nature fits very well into the beliefs of many religions worldwide. If you are within a belief system and want to use a word to describe how you feel about a deity or religious figure, awe is a word that is very applicable and appropriate.
Awe is also used when describing the feelings that people get when they experience something truly massive or impressive. If you’re ever standing right next to a skyscraper and feel incredibly tiny concerning the massiveness of the building next to you, awe would be a perfect word to use in that situation. It can also be used in the context of natural things, such as mountains, massive trees, or gorgeously complex and intricate natural structures and creatures.
Example Sentences Using the Word Awe
The best way to learn how to effectively use a word is by seeing it in use in sentences and in everyday conversation. These example sentences should help you understand what awe really means and enable you to start using the word in your own sentences!
- The economics undergraduates were in awe of the famous professor that visited them during class last week.
- Even though it was just a random house that nobody had lived in for decades, the architect was in awe of the stained glass windows covering its front.
- I was in awe of how many related words Anthony could think of to the word “unabridged.”
- When I went on vacation, I was in awe of how excellent all Portuguese food and drink could be.
- My car is probably one of the most aweless things you will ever come into contact with.
- I was in awe at how many typos a writer could fit into one Wiktionary article.
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the English language, one of the best ways to do that is by looking at our blog here at The Word Counter! We are constantly uploading new posts and articles on the finer details of the English language so that everyone can be up to date with all of the most exciting aspects of speech today.
If you want to learn more about how language is constantly shifting and evolving in the modern world, check out some of our posts! Even just a couple minutes browsing through can answer some of the most long-withstanding questions you’ve had — check it out here!