What does woke mean? Definition and meaning explained


TV host Piers Morgan recently blasted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as being the “most woke, over-sensitive, woe-is-me couple in the world”.

But what does the term “woke” actually mean? Here’s what we know:

The term woke has become prevalent in recent years

What does ‘woke’ mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary “woke” is defined as: “Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.”

The Urban Dictionary, however, simply says: “Being woke means being aware

knowing whats going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice).”

To summarise: woke means a person is consciously awake.

Where does ‘woke’ come from?

The word first came into circulation in the 1800s when it simply meant the state of not being asleep.

And it started emerging in Black English at least by the 1940s, according to dictionary.com.

An ‘Atlantic’ article from 1943 reportedly quoted a blackUnited Mine Workers official from 1940 playing withwokein a metaphor for social justice:Waking up is a damn sight than going to sleep, but well stay woke up longer.

By the 1960s, ‘woke’ was still used in the context of political awareness, especially regarding the Civil Rights Movement in the 195060s.

Piers Morgan recently blasted Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as being the ‘most woke couple in the world’

The term even prompted a 1962 New York Times article commenting on black slang, titled If Youre Woke You Dig It”.

A 1972 play about the black nationalist Marcus Garvey, ‘Garvey Lives!’ by Barry Beckham, used woke for awareness of racial injustice in the black community.

A line reads: I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr. Garvey done woke me up, Im gon’ stay woke. And Im gon’ help him wake up other black folk.

Morgan hit out at Harry and Meghan following their bombshell announcement they are quitting as senior royals

What sparked the trend for ‘woke’ in recent years?

In 2012, unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Florida by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

The shooting sparked the Black Lives Matter movement amid a public outcry over the gunman’s controversial acquittal.

Many in the black community issued calls to ‘stay woke’to the discrimination and injustice black people face in the US, particularly in the form of police brutality.

Under the hashtag #staywoke on social media, the term took off again in 2014 after the tragic shooting of two other young, unarmed black men by police officers.