vig·​il | \ ˈvi-jəl How to pronounce vigil (audio) \

Definition of vigil

1 : the act of keeping awake at times when sleep is customary also : a period of wakefulness
2 : an event or a period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits, prays, etc., especially at night a candlelight vigil kept vigil at her bedside
3a : a watch formerly kept on the night before a religious feast with prayer or other devotions
b : the day before a religious feast observed as a day of spiritual preparation
c : evening or nocturnal devotions or prayers usually used in plural

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Examples of vigil in a Sentence

kept vigil at their ailing son's bedside the entire time he was in the hospital

Recent Examples on the Web

Days after more than 1,000 community members held a vigil in Pearl River, that same board decided not to parole McCain, citing public outcry. Fox News, "'So hideous' that 16-year-old New York girl's killer is being released, Pataki says in plea to Cuomo," 4 July 2019 The royal went outside Kensington Palace to greet a group of fans gathered beyond the gates, who'd been holding a vigil since 5:30 a.m. that morning in Diana's honor. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Prince Harry and Prince William Each Honor Princess Diana's 58th Birthday in Their Own Way," 2 July 2019 Students will hold a vigil Monday night to honor their former classmate. CBS News, "Utah student's accused killer allegedly tried to have sound-proof room built," 1 July 2019 By Bay City News Service Religious groups and immigrant-support organizations will hold a vigil Monday at two East Bay churches to oppose the deportation of immigrants. Bay City News Service, The Mercury News, "East Bay groups will host Monday vigil to oppose ICE raids," 29 June 2019 Last week, hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre 30 years ago. Alex Ward, Vox, "What Hong Kong’s massive protests are really about," 11 June 2019 Censorship of the Hong Kong protests follows strenuous efforts about two weeks ago to erase all mention of Tiananmen, commemorated at a mass candlelight vigil in Hong Kong and reported on widely around the world. Robyn Dixon,, "The ‘Great Firewall’: China censors videos, social media posts of Hong Kong protests," 18 June 2019 Thousands were expected to turn out for a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that has relatively greater freedoms than the mainland, though activists are concerned about the erosion of those liberties in recent years. Fox News, "China chides Mike Pompeo after he calls on them to reveal Tiananmen Square death toll," 5 June 2019 People hold candles during a vigil in Hong Kong on June 4, 2018, to mark the 29th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing. Laignee Barron / Hong Kong, Time, "How the Tiananmen Square Massacre Changed China Forever," 4 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vigil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of vigil

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

History and Etymology for vigil

Middle English vigile, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin vigilia watch on the eve of a feast, from Latin, wakefulness, watch, from vigil awake, watchful; akin to Latin vigēre to be vigorous, vegēre to enliven — more at wake

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Statistics for vigil

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for vigil

The first known use of vigil was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for vigil



English Language Learners Definition of vigil

: an event or a period of time when a person or group stays in a place and quietly waits, prays, etc., especially at night


vig·​il | \ ˈvi-jəl How to pronounce vigil (audio) \

Kids Definition of vigil

: an act of keeping watch especially when sleep is usual

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More from Merriam-Webster on vigil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vigil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vigil

Spanish Central: Translation of vigil

Nglish: Translation of vigil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vigil for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about vigil

Comments on vigil

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