Woke
Posted: 01 February 2019 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This new sense of woke is gaining in popularity and a byword for social awareness. Interesting to know that this word was used as an adjective meaning, weak, years ago; its meaning now obsolete:

OED

woke, adj.1
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Forms:  α. OE–ME wac (OE waac, infl. wake), ME northern wak, ME wake; β. ME woc, (ME wooc, infl… (Show More)
Origin: A word inherited from Germanic.
Etymology: Common Germanic (wanting in Gothic and Frisian): Old English wác , corresponding to Old Saxon, Middle Low German wêk , Middle Dutch weec (Dutch week ), Old High German weih (Middle High German, German weich ) yielding, soft, Old Norse veikr , vøyk-r (Swedish vek , Danish veg soft, Norwegian veik ) weak < Old Germanic *waikwo- , < *waikw- : *wῑkw- to yield, give way: see wick v.1 Compare weak adj., < Old Norse veikr.
The word died out in the 15th cent., being superseded by weak adj. and n.; if it had survived, its form in modern English would have been *wook (wuk), the vowel being modified in quality by the initial (w) and shortened by the final (k).
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Obsolete.
= weak adj.  in various senses.

a. Pliant, flexible (only Old English).


b. Lacking in strength, vigour, endurance, or courage; inferior physically or morally.

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c. Lowly in status or degree; insignificant.

Its new sense from slang to mainstream: https://knowyourmeme.com/news/oxford-english-dictionary-adds-word-woke#comments

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Posted: 02 February 2019 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It is not “this word,” it is an entirely different word that happens to be spelled the same in the dictionary listing.  It does not have a “new sense,” it is long dead.

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Posted: 02 February 2019 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It’s a different word. The woke meaning weak is cognate with the modern weak. The Old English wac meant pliable or weak. It was slowly displaced by the Old Norse veikr, which is cognate and gives us the modern form of weak.  The Middle English Dictionary forms the headword as woc, not woke, like the OED does (in a 1928 entry). I would argue that the Old English and the Old Norse (as used in England) are really the same word, with the Old Norse form merely altering the form of the word that was already in the language. But both the MED and OED give separate entries.

Whereas the adjective woke, meaning socially aware, is from the past tense of the verb to wake. It’s an African-American usage that can be dated to the early 1960s and the Civil Rights movement. Entirely different.

The only reason one might mistake the two words is that the 1928 editors of the OED chose to use woke, only one of many spelling variants, as the headword for the word from the Old English wac. The editors even say the modern form, had the word not been influenced by the Old Norse, would have been *wook.

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Posted: 02 February 2019 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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languagehat - 02 February 2019 06:18 AM

It is not “this word,” it is an entirely different word that happens to be spelled the same in the dictionary listing.  It does not have a “new sense,” it is long dead.

I meant the relatively new sense regarding woke with social awareness. I made the mistake of conflating the two different words.

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Posted: 02 February 2019 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The only reason one might mistake the two words is that the 1928 editors of the OED chose to use woke, only one of many spelling variants, as the headword for the word from the Old English wac. The editors even say the modern form, had the word not been influenced by the Old Norse, would have been *wook.

Naturally, I’m the one who made that mistake; it’s always my impetuousness that gets me in trouble; thank you for the clarification.

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