Can wake be used as a verb and a noun.

I've seen wake used as a noun such as an event or period. "The wake will be on this date", "we will arrange a wake to show our thankfulness for having this person in our life", etc.

I have never seen it used as a verb but have been told it can be.

So is it correct to say "we will wake on this day", "we have waked by doing this", "we wake for those we have lost"?


Another question about how wake is used. In my last example could it be "we wake those we have lost" without the "for"?

  • I wake every morning when I stop sleeping. But I grieve for someone when I go to a wake. Never heard of 'wake' (verb) used in the way you are asking about, and 'hold a wake' is the set phrase. – NES Nov 15 '15 at 21:07
  • 1
    Highly related answer to a somewhat related question. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 15 '15 at 21:09

The OED certainly recognises its use as a verb, under its sense 6b of the verb - to wake.

Wake in both its noun and verb forms, used in this sense, originates from the idea of a vigil, and wakefulness therewith associated. But it also extends to the feast in honour of the deceased.

6b. To keep watch or vigil over (a dead body) until burial; to hold a wake over (see wake n.1 3). Now only dial., chiefly Anglo-Irish.

A few of the more recent examples are:

1898 F. P. Dunne Mr. Dooley in Peace & War 188 They waked th' oldest son in small beer, an' was little thought of.

1959 T. H. White Godstone & Blackymor 168 Everybody was trying to amuse Charlie Plunkett. Otherwise, why ‘wake’ him?

1974 D. Sears Lark in Clear Air ix. 117 They waked Holly Dallan in the parlour of the log house where she had been born and reared.


It appears it is a local, dialectal use of wake:

to wake:

  • (Irish or North American dialect) Hold a vigil beside (someone who has died):
    • we waked Jim last night


Its usage as a verb is quite ancient, but it appears to be uncommon now:


  • 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.


  • Must be dialectal. If I heard that, I would respond with something like and told him what? – NES Nov 15 '15 at 21:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.