1. Having knowledge or discernment of something: was aware of the difference between the two versions; became aware that the music had stopped.
2. Attentive and well informed: "Most scientists are thoughtful, liberal-minded and socially aware people" (Armand Marie Leroi).
3. Archaic Vigilant; watchful.
[Middle English, variant of iwar, from Old English gewær; see wer-3 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: aware, cognizant, conscious, sensible, awake
These adjectives mean having knowledge or discernment of something. Aware implies knowledge gained through one's own perceptions or by means of outside information: became aware of a cooling in their relationship; was not aware that the legislation passed.
Cognizant is a formal equivalent of aware: "Our research indicates that the nation's youth are cognizant of the law" (Jerry D. Jennings).
Conscious emphasizes the inner workings of the mind or the direct experience of the senses as opposed to knowledge gained through information: "Was Darwin really conscious of what he had done as he wrote his last professional lines?" (Stephen Jay Gould). "She was clearly conscious of the beauty of the night, its stars and sharp cold" (Oliver La Farge).
Sensible implies knowledge gained through intellectual perception: "I am sensible that the mention of such a circumstance may appear trifling" (Henry Hallam).
To be awake is to be fully alert to something: "He was as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself could be" (Jane Austen).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.