litany

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

Definition of litany

plural

litanies

  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 in a sentence

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

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

Did You Know?

Litany came to English through Anglo-French and Late Latin, ultimately from the Greek word litaneia, meaning "entreaty." Litany refers literally to a type of prayer in which a series of lines are spoken alternately by a leader and a congregation. This use dates to the 13th century. Between that century and the 20th, three figurative senses developed. The chant-like quality of a literal litany led first to a "repetitive chant" sense. Next, the repetitious—and sometimes interminable—nature of the original litany led to a "lengthy recitation" sense. Finally, the "lengthy recitation" sense was extended to refer to any sizable series or set.

Origin and Etymology 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


LITANY Defined for English Language Learners

litany

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

Definition of litany for English Language Learners

  • : 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.


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