In Awe: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 17, 2023

To be "in awe" of something is to be amazed by it and maybe a little scared of its greatness. It is a popular way to describe feeling blown away by something impressive or fantastic. When somebody uses "in awe," it's like they're saying, "Wow, this thing is so amazing, I can't believe it!" The core meaning of the phrase is an overwhelming sense of admiration or fear experienced in response to something grand or sublime.

In short:

  • The phrase "in awe" signifies a deep sense of respect or wonder.
  • It conveys a profound emotional reaction to something grand, sublime, or terrifying.
  • It can also describe a state of being captivated by the beauty, scale, or complexity of something.

What Does "In Awe" Mean?

The phrase suggests an intense emotional response, much like being struck by lightning. It emphasizes the experience of being deeply moved by the majesty or beauty of something or a feeling of humble reverence or fearful respect.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • "In awe" conveys a strong feeling of respect, fear, or wonder.
  • When someone is "in awe," they are profoundly impressed or moved by something.
  • The idiom is frequently used in conversation to express a sense of fascination or amazement.
  • The expression likely originates from the sense of fear or respect inspired by powerful or grand entities.
  • Some synonyms for "in awe" include "agog," "astonished," and "marveling."

Where Does "In Awe" Come From?

Being "in awe" has long been a part of the human experience. Its earliest known use dates back to Old English, where "awe" meant "fear, terror or dread," often in the context of reverence for a deity.

Historical Examples

"For although their fathers love them, yet must the rod be walking now and then, and they stand always in awe."

- Sermons ... Vpon the Epistle of Saincte Paule to the Galathians, 1574

"Man stands in awe of the Kings herald, because of his coat of armes, take off this coat of armes from him, and men cary no respect to him..."

- The Pourtraiture of the Image of God in Man, in His Three Estates of Creation, Restauration, Glorification, 1627

10 Examples of "In Awe" in Sentences

Here are ten examples of sentences using "in awe" in various contexts:

  • Seeing my sister in her element, conducting the orchestra, I was truly in awe of her talent.
  • The grandeur of the mountain at sunrise was a sight to behold and left everyone in awe.
  • She looked at the towering redwoods, completely in awe.
  • When she danced, it seemed like the audience was always in awe of her grace.
  • The audience was in awe of the magician's final trick.
  • How about you? Were you also in awe of the lead actor's performance?
  • He was in awe of his mentor's vast knowledge.
  • I don't think I'll be able to get over the awe of witnessing a total solar eclipse anytime soon.
  • I am in awe of her innovative projects. She's clearly destined for greatness.
  • I remain in awe of nature's capacity to surprise and amaze us.

Examples of "In Awe" in Pop Culture

Due to its expressive nature, the phrase "in awe" frequently appears in popular culture, such as movies, TV shows, and music.

Some notable examples are:

  • "I Stand in Awe" is a Christian song by American singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin.
  • "Drifting in Awe," a 2017 book by Larry Thacker, invites readers to embark on a journey of exploration and introspection in this captivating work.
  • The 2003 book Rapt in Awe by Lee White invites readers to contemplate the interconnectedness of various concepts and phenomena.
  • A quote from M. Night Shyamalan's mystery film, The Village (2004): "She is more capable than most in this village. And she is led by love. The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe."

Other/Different Ways to Say "In Awe"

There are several other ways to express the meaning of the phrase.

Here are a few examples:

  • Astonished
  • Agog
  • Marveling
  • Enthralled
  • Bedazzled
  • Stunned
  • Mesmerized

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "In Awe":

  • What does "in awe" mean?

The idiom "in awe" is used to describe the feeling of profound respect or wonder, often mixed with fear or surprise, inspired by something grand, sublime, or powerful.

  • What is the origin of "in awe"?

The phrase "in awe" stems from Old English, where "awe" meant "fear, terror, or dread," often linked to the reverence of a deity.

  • How can I use "in awe" in a sentence?

You can use "in awe" to express a feeling of profound respect or wonder. For example, "I still remember the first time I experienced the grandeur of the Grand Canyon; I was left in awe."

  • Can I use the phrase in a professional context?

Yes, "in awe" can be used in a professional context, such as when acknowledging someone's achievements or capabilities, or when describing an impressive phenomenon or event.

  • What are some synonyms of "in awe"?

Some synonyms include "astonished," "agog," "marveling," and "enthralled."

  • Is it applicable in written communication?

Yes, "in awe" can be used in written communication, such as in books, articles, or emails, to describe a feeling of profound respect or wonder.

  • Is it appropriate to use "in awe" in formal writing?

Yes, "in awe" is perfectly suitable for formal writing, and can be used to communicate a feeling of profound respect or admiration in a sophisticated manner.

  • Does "in awe" have a negative connotation?

No, "in awe" generally has a neutral or positive connotation. It's often associated with feelings of admiration, respect, or wonder.

  • Can I use it in a literal sense?

Yes, "in awe" can be used literally to express a profound feeling of wonder or amazement towards something awe-inspiring, such as a natural wonder or a significant achievement.

  • Can I use it to describe a person?

Yes, "in awe" can be used to describe a person who is feeling a strong sense of admiration or respect towards someone else or something.

Final Thoughts About "In Awe"

The phrase "in awe" is an expressive way of communicating the deep respect, wonder, or admiration that one can experience in the face of something grand, sublime, or powerful. It reminds us of the capacity of the world to inspire and move us in profound ways.

Here's a quick summary:

  • "In awe" conveys a feeling of deep respect or wonder.
  • You can use it in casual and formal conversations.
  • We use it to express admiration or amazement towards something awe-inspiring.
  • It means you are profoundly moved or impressed by someone or something.
  • The phrase has many synonyms, such as "astonished," "agog," and "marveling."

In the end, it's not just an idiom but an acknowledgment of the profound impact that the world can have on us.

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