Aside from being the past participle of wake, por décadas, it meant conscious and aware – but the slang word has come to represent an embrace of progressive activism, también.
Merriam-Webster added the word to its dictionary in 2017, defining it as, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” The Oxford dictionary adopted it the same year, defining it as “originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.”
“Woke is a slang term that is easing into the mainstream from some varieties of a dialect called African American Vernacular English (sometimes called AAVE),” de acuerdo a Merriam-Webster. “In AAVE, awake is often rendered as woke, as in, ‘I was sleeping, but now I’m woke.’”
The meaning appears to have shifted sometime after Erykah Badu repeatedly used the line “I stay woke” in her 2008 song, “Master Teacher,” which begins, “I am known to stay awake.”