Definition of litany
1 : a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation the Litany of the Saints
2a : a resonant or repetitive chant a litany of cheering phrases — Herman Woukb : a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration a familiar litany of complaintsc : a sizable series or set a litany of problems The drug has a litany of possible side effects.
litany was our Word of the Day on 04/21/2016. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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.
Recent Examples of litany from the Web
The litany of complaints includes too much kick, too heavy, a barrel too long, inefficient.
The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts suspended Grote’s medical license in 2014 for a litany of professional failings, including unsafe opioid prescribing.
But the third movie, leaning on an endless litany of ’80s pop culture references to entertain parents and a whole lot of noisy, forgettable action to please the kids, feels more like that goat.
Then we are taken to the IRS agent outlining the litany of transgressions the Stussy company has participated in.
The song, famous for its litany of conflicting emotions, acts in this moment as Shelly’s personal theme.
Still, in the following year, as Pence was running for vice president, the state clung to the contract despite a litany of performance issues in Indiana — and elsewhere.
These brands are available only to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for free two-day shipping, among a litany of other benefits.
President Trump trolled Hillary Clinton after the former Democratic presidential nominee blamed a litany of factors -- including Russia, Facebook and national misogyny -- for her 2016 loss during a Wednesday forum in California.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'litany'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
A Short History of litany
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 centurySee Words from the same year
LITANY Defined for English Language Learners
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.
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).