11

I just recently learned these phrases were a thing and I can't find the difference anywhere online.

Is there a difference between 「目を覚ます」 and 「目覚める」 ?

Any help would be appreciated!

18

There is no semantic difference when they mean "to wake up (e.g., in the morning)", but 目覚める sounds more bookish and literary. In the most casual settings, people usually say 起きる or 目を覚ます.

In addition, each has derivative meanings:

  • 目を覚ます also means "to regain one's sense", "to recover from illusion", "to notice one believed in something wrong".
  • 目覚める also means "to become conscious (of the joy of something)", "to be enlightened", "to awaken (e.g., to beauty, perception, sex, ability)".

See also:

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