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
1 : a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation
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 in a sentence
He has a litany of grievances against his former employer.
The team blamed its losses on a litany of injuries.
Did You Know?
Litany came to English through Anglo-French and Late Latin, and ultimately from the Greek word litaneia, meaning "entreaty." A "litany" refers literally to a type of prayer in which a series of lines are spoken alternately by a leader and a congregation. Recent decades have seen the development of three figurative senses. The chant-like quality of a literal litany led to the "repetitive chant" sense. Next, the repetitious nature of the original litany led to the "lengthy recitation" sense. Finally, the "lengthy recitation" sense led to the meaning "a sizable series or set."
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
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