Word Origin & History
"to become awake," O.E. wacan "to become awake," also from wacian "to be or remain awake," both from P.Gmc. *waken (cf. O.S. wakon, O.N. vaka, Dan. vaage, O.Fris. waka, Du. waken, O.H.G. wahhen, Ger. wachen "to be awake," Goth. wakan "to watch"), from PIE base *weg- "to be strong, be lively" (cf. Skt.
vajah "force, swiftness, race, prize," vajayati "drives on;" L. vegere, vigere "to be live, be active, quicken," vigil "awake, wakeful," vigor "liveliness, activity"). Causative sense "to rouse from sleep" is attested from c.1300. Phrase wake-up call is attested from 1976, originally a call one received from the hotel desk in the morning.
"track left by a moving ship," 1547, perhaps from M.L.G. or M.Du. wake "hole in the ice," from O.N. vok, vaka "hole in the ice," from P.Gmc. *wakwo. The sense perhaps evolved via "track made by a vessel through ice." Perhaps the Eng. word is directly from Scand. Fig. phrase in the wake of "following
close behind" is recorded from 1806.
"state of wakefulness," O.E. -wacu (as in nihtwacu "night watch"), related to watch
; and partly from O.N. vaka "vigil, eve before a feast," related to vaka "be awake" (cf. O.H.G. wahta "watch, vigil," M.Du. wachten "to watch, guard;" see wake
Meaning "a sitting up at night with a corpse" is attested from early 15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-13c.). The custom largely survived as an Irish activity. Wakeman (c.1200), which survives as a surname, was M.E. for "watchman."