Whenever one of my friends posts a cute photo of a baby or child or small animal on their blog or on Facebook, someone inevitably comments with something like “Aw, so cute!” or “Awwwwwww…” or something similar.
Unfortunately, I have also seen people use “Awe…” [sic]. This is, of course, completely wrong, unless that person is trying to say that she is in awe of the baby or puppy in question.
Aw is used to express both sentimental approval and also disgust or unhappiness.
Awe means “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.” For example, I am in awe of the great works that Gandhi and Mother Teresa did during their lifetimes.
Believe me, when I see someone using awe incorrectly, my reaction is usually “Aw, I can’t believe she did that.“