from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might: We felt awe when contemplating the works of Bach. The observers were in awe of the destructive power of the new weapon.
  • n. Archaic The power to inspire dread.
  • n. Archaic Dread.
  • transitive v. To inspire with awe.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A feeling of fear and reverence.
  • n. A feeling of amazement.
  • v. To inspire fear and reverence.
  • v. To control by inspiring dread.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Dread; great fear mingled with respect.
  • n. The emotion inspired by something dreadful and sublime; an undefined sense of the dreadful and the sublime; reverential fear, or solemn wonder; profound reverence.
  • transitive v. To strike with fear and reverence; to inspire with awe; to control by inspiring dread.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To inspire with fear or dread; terrify; control or restrain by the influence of fear.
  • To strike with awe, reverence, or respect; influence by exciting profound respect or reverential fear.
  • To owe.
  • n. Dread; fear, as of something evil.
  • n. Fear mingled with admiration or reverence; reverential fear; feeling inspired by something sublime, not necessarily partaking of the nature of fear or dread.
  • n. Overawing influence.
  • n. Synonyms Reverence, Veneration, etc. See reverence, n.
  • n. One of the float-boards of an undershot water-wheel, on which the water acts.
  • n. One of the sails of a windmill.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. inspire awe in
  • n. a feeling of profound respect for someone or something
  • n. an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration


Middle English, from Old Norse agi.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English eġe, influenced during Middle English by forms from the Old Norse cognate agi, both from Proto-Germanic *agaz. (Wiktionary)



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  • @LiteralMinded's @VisualThesaurus column on "awesome/awful/awe"--and rollercoasters! (paywall)

    June 10, 2010

  • "When they lose their sense of awe, people turn to religion." --Tao Te Ching

    April 7, 2007