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Definition of Woke

Woke is a word is of English origin and refers to being aware of current social issues. The meaning of the word comes from the past of wake. The phrase ‘Wake up!’, used in politics, means that the performer is asleep or unaware of the background of situations. Woke, therefore, means awake to the reality of certain issues.


Woke is an adjective derived from African American vernacular English meaning “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.” Beginning in the 2010s, it came to encompass a broader awareness of social inequalities, such as sexism, and has also been used as shorthand for American leftist ideas related to identity politics and social justice, such as the notion of white privilege and reparations for the enslavement of African Americans.

The term stay woke emerged in the 1930s to refer, in some contexts, to an awareness of social and political issues affecting African Americans.


The terms woke-washing and woke capitalism were coined to describe companies that point to their support of progressive causes as a substitute for genuine change. In 2020, members of the political center and right wing in several Western countries used the term woke, often ironically.

This as an insult to various progressive or left-wing movements and ideologies perceived as overly fervent, performative or insincere. In turn, some commentators came to regard it as an offensive term with negative associations for those promoting political ideas related to identity and race.

Examples of Woke

  • Did you see what happened to Laura? She was attacked on Twitter because she wasn’t woke enough.
  • I never knew what really mattered in life. Now I’m woke.