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The opposite of “awaken”?

Is there an English word that means ‘to fall asleep’? Since there’s a word, ‘awaken’, that denotes ‘to wake up’, I’m wondering if ‘awaken’’s antonym exists.

  • April 14, 2011
  • Posted by sigurd
  • Filed in Misc

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lull or deaden perhaps?

wirednweird April 14, 2011, 1:46pm

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deaden seems about right




downliven? (twisted from enliven)

why not: beslumber?

I'm liking: comeslumber (worked from 'come to a halt/rest')

Stanmund April 14, 2011, 8:16pm

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Merriam-Webster gives 'lull as the antonym.

Red April 15, 2011, 8:36am

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To nod may also work.

porsche April 16, 2011, 12:40pm

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Geeks might like "deactivate". One could, perhaps, construct "dewaken". :)
However, one definition of awaken is "to cause to become awake" so we're looking for a word that means "to cause to go to sleep". so "anesthetize" comes to mind.

Trunkles April 16, 2011, 9:01pm

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Neither "lull" nor "deaden" mean "fall asleep". ("Lull" means something like "to make [someone else] sleepy," although "awaken can also be used transitively to mean "to make [someone else] wake up".) The nearest counterpart to "awaken" (intransitive) that I can think of is "nod off". I can't think of a single word counterpart offhand.

njtt April 16, 2011, 11:28pm

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Stanmund April 17, 2011, 3:25pm

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Someone buy this blog author a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Daniel April 25, 2011, 4:08am

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Well, if we're going to make up words, then how about "awaken"? Yes, let's use awaken as the opposite of awaken. Instead of using the a- prefix as an intensifier, we can use it for negation, as in amoral, amorphous, atonal, etc. I suppose you could pronounce it differently if you really want, "uh"-waken for waking up, and "ay"-waken for going to sleep.

Or maybe we should use "asleepen" instead. Why not? there's wake and sleep, awake and asleep, so why not awaken and asleepen? If asleepen sounds funny or awkward, isn't awaken just as much so? It's construction is similar.

porsche April 25, 2011, 6:00am

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"Nod off" seems correct. Doze off could be another... but it seems the question is to find a word, not a composite one, right? Hmmm... "slumbered"? "he slumbered, then was awaken"....? Tricky... that's my 2 cents, maybe only worth that much! ;0)

Vince May 18, 2011, 11:35am

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Oh wait! It is a word!!! In the Dictionary the example (and correct spelling) is " the child slumbered fitfully". There you go!

Vince May 18, 2011, 11:37am

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asleep or dorment

RUPESH May 21, 2011, 11:10pm

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Awaken can be transitive or intransitive. The opposite of the transitive verb, as in "I awakened you" would be lull to sleep. "I lulled you to sleep." The opposite of the intransitive version, "You awakened" is to fall asleep- "You fell asleep." Its not really that hard; don't we use these terms almost daily? Though i usually say "I woke up" rather than "I awakened," which seems a little precious and not what i would teach my esl students.

Billdave May 22, 2011, 5:18am

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Vince, I don't think slumber works. It means to be asleep, not to fall asleep.

porsche May 22, 2011, 1:24pm

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How about sleepen? Or aslept?

Mark Champney June 12, 2011, 2:50pm

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"somnify" or, perhaps, the acronym, "witaom" for "wrapped in the arms of Morpheus"

kerbe June 27, 2011, 7:20am

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It seems there are no one-word antonyms for awaken. Slumber means to be asleep, and lull means to send to sleep. Informally, you could use "crash," as in, "Can I crash at your place?" But "fall asleep" is the term everyone uses. Besides, wake up is more common than awaken.

cgtay33 June 29, 2011, 12:24pm

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the antonym of transitive awaken is put to sleep. the antonym of intransitive awaken is fall asleep. that's all there is; but I love some of the made-up words in these comments, my favorite is sleepen. very creative! g2g now, it's time to sleepen my little ones.

patty-c July 2, 2011, 6:24pm

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It fell out of use but the OE verb for "to fall asleep" was onslæpan

onslǣpan (v.), to fall asleep. ... There ya go ... ONsleep!

AnWulf August 11, 2011, 8:41am

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BrockawayBaby August 16, 2011, 1:32pm

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BrockawayBaby August 17, 2011, 5:10am

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Yes, but, will it blend?

jingen August 17, 2011, 9:22am

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Of course it will blend if you blend it. Silly jingen. Stop being such a sillypuss. What I want to know is, will it mix?

BrockawayBaby August 17, 2011, 9:33pm

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I will awaken at 6 in the morning.
I will asleepen at 10 at night.

Sounds good to me!

It's just requickening the OE verb onslæpen. It's common for the "on" prefix to change to the "a" prefex. Works for me!

AnWulf August 18, 2011, 1:58pm

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I like asleepen. Another twist - why do we fall asleep but we don't fall awake? Makes me think sleep is "down"!

Mort August 25, 2011, 2:34pm

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We "fall asleep," so we should "rise awake," right? We "go to sleep" and "come awake," right? And "we get up, stand up, stand up for our rights," so we should "get down, sit down, sit down against our restrictions," no?

BrockawayBaby August 25, 2011, 5:47pm

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I just wrote a poem using the word aslumber, not fully realizing that it wasn't a real word as it fit the bill. It would be nice to say that this happened because I'm an ace Scrabble player and used to bluffing, but it just isn't so. I really like the poem, but can't show it to anyone who is a serious poet as they will be all over that word. I have found that poets challenge much more often than Scrabble players and I am growing more and more fond of the word. I guess you could say that Buddhists are awake and everyone else is aslumber.

Mikee September 9, 2011, 1:52pm

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@Mikee ... Skops (scops, poets) challenge more than Scrabble players? Surely you jest? Skops have a reputation for altering words and making kennings to fit their poems!

English is wonderful because you CAN add forefasts (prefixes) to make new words ... that's why they exist!

Let's look at how the forefast "a" or "an" can work.

1. to, towards as in aside, aback, ashore ...
2. in the process of, in a particular state as in alone, a-hunting, aglow ...

Now, slumber has sundry meanings ... sleep, dormant, to be asleep, stun, stupefy ...

For byspel, you could write aslumber, a-slumber or a-slumbering to mean a state of dormancy. The volcano is a-slumber.

" ... that Buddhists are awake and everyone else is aslumber." ... I like it!

AnWulf September 9, 2011, 3:53pm

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boldergoly September 12, 2011, 6:55am

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"To awaken the masses..." "To beslumber the masses..."
"I was awakened by the alarm." "I was beslumbered by the gentle ocean waves."

@Daniel...Why not just answer the question?

Tom in TX November 13, 2011, 10:19am

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I know this is old, but I rather like enslaffen, which is derived from the German word Einschlafen.

Jasper June 29, 2012, 8:43pm

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@Jasper ... If yu are going to borrow the German word and englishen it a bit, it would be inshlafen. To calque it would be insleep or maybe insleepen ... and someone has thought of that:

AnWulf July 2, 2012, 10:43am

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Well, it provides a 'verbification' format like ennoble (from, the noun, noble) which allows to get a new word for sleep also: slaf. Although it wasn't my intention to do that, it works. And plus, I don't like the look of inslaffen, so I dropped the i and used the beginning e.

Jasper July 2, 2012, 5:01pm

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Yes     No