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Blend of woke (holding left-wing views toward social justice) +‎ awakening, influenced by Great Awakening, any of several periods of religious revival in the United States. Attested from the 2010s.


awokening (plural awokenings)

  1. (usually derogatory) A progressive or leftist political or social movement or attitude, especially toward social justice issues, or the effects of such a movement.
    • 2017 May 15, Hannah Marriott, “Woke models: how activism became fashion's latest must-have”, in The Guardian[1], London, page 9:
      It could be argued that the rise of the socially conscious model reflects a very 2017 archetype: the “woke” young woman, who looks set to define femininity this decade in the same way that the lager-swilling ladette did in the 90s. It is also symptomatic of a broader cultural “awokening” that has reached the stuffiest institutions; even the royal family has recently relaxed its upper lip.
    • 2017 August 24, “Fate of Statues and Monuments Across America; Outrage Over ESPN Decision To Pull Robert Lee From Game”, in Tucker Carlson Tonight, spoken by Dana Loesch, via Fox News:
      It's an epidemic of racist babies. People are so awoke. It’s the awokening to 2017. That’s good to say, this is all part of the awokening. And now, we’re completely flipping out over babies.
    • 2021 August 8, Amulya Gopalakrishnan, “Matt Damon, and the journey to wokeness”, in Times of India, New Delhi:
      Activism derided as ‘cancel culture’ or ‘the great awokening’ is the only reason mainstream culture is less vicious and dehumanising than it was.
  2. (often capitalized) Media or political discourse displaying or commenting on woke stances toward social justice.
    • 2019 April 1, Matthew Yglesias, “The Great Awokening”, in Vox[2]:
      Ta-Nehisi Coates’s 2014 article making the case for reparations was obviously enormously influential on the specifics of that question, but also more broadly in the larger Awokening — such that references to redlining and other discriminatory aspects of the post-World War II real estate market are now commonplace throughout progressive circles.
    • 2021 September 7, David Rozado, Musa al-Gharbi, Jamin Halberstadt, “Our Research Shows the ‘Great Awokening’ Preceded Trump—and Outlasted Him”, in Newsweek[3]:
      The abrupt and dramatic changes in the frequency of prejudice-denoting terms in news media within the span of just 10 years suggests the existence of powerful underlying social dynamics at play. [] It is still early in the Biden presidency to know for sure whether the “Great Awokening” in news media will continue, level off, or reverse course.

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