Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

litany

play
noun lit·a·ny \ˈli-tə-nē, ˈlit-nē\

Simple Definition of litany

  • : a prayer in a Christian church service in which the people at the service respond to lines spoken by the person who is leading the service

  • : a long list of complaints, problems, etc.

Full Definition of litany

plural lit·a·nies

  1. 1 :  a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation

  2. 2 a :  a resonant or repetitive chant <a litany of cheering phrases — Herman Wouk> b :  a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration <a familiar litany of complaints> c :  a sizable series or set <a litany of problems>

Examples of litany

  1. He has a litany of grievances against his former employer.

  2. The team blamed its losses on a litany of injuries.



Origin of litany

Middle English letanie, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin litania, from Late Greek litaneia, from Greek, entreaty, from litanos supplicant


First Known Use: 13th century



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up litany? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ