1. awake, wary, observant. Alert, vigilant, watchful imply a wide-awake attitude, as of someone keenly aware of his or her surroundings. Alert describes a ready and prompt attentiveness together with a quick intelligence: The tourist was alert and eager to see the sights. Vigilant suggests some immediate necessity for keen, active observation, and for continuing alertness: Knowing the danger, the scout was unceasingly vigilant. Watchful suggests carefulness and preparedness: watchful waiting. 2. brisk, lively, quick, active, sprightly, spirited.