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CONTRIBUTOR: anonymous on 9/24/2007
Meaning & History
From a variant of Onaway
, a name of unspecified Native American origin. It was used by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his epic poem 'The Song of Hiawatha' (1855), which was based loosely on legends of the Ojibwe peoples; in Book XI of the poem, the musician Chibiabos
recites a song in which he addresses an imagined lover named Onaway. Longfellow's poem was later adapted by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor into the choral work 'Hiawatha's Wedding Feast' (1898), featuring the aria 'Onaway! Awake, beloved!', due to which the name has been misinterpreted as meaning "awake".