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

During a protest over political statements made during a vigil for the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, students spoke out against those who have used their tragedy as a political tool. James Freeman, WSJ, "Honoring Kendrick Castillo," 14 May 2019 Claudine Anne Luera's relatives held roses and photos of her during the vigil. Susan Montoya Bryan, Fox News, "Relatives have vigil for 4 allegedly killed by border agent," 18 Sep. 2018 Furgurson was standing in front of at least 150 people at a vigil in a mall parking lot Friday night. Jess Bidgood,, "Annapolis mourns Capital Gazette shooting victims: ‘They were part of us’," 30 June 2018 Griffen in April re-enacted his demonstration outside the governor’s mansion during a vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of the four executions Arkansas carried out last year. Washington Post, "Arkansas judge seen at anti-execution rally faces sanction," 8 June 2018 Mark Rodriguez holds a sign with #enough during candle light vigil at Pines Trails Park & Amphitheater for shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Tuesday, February 15, 2018. Martin Vassolo, miamiherald, "After Parkland they vowed 'Never Again.' Now they see glimpses of themselves in Texas | Miami Herald," 18 May 2018 After the show, held on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, shooting victims were remembered with four minutes and 20 seconds of silence at a candlelight vigil. Matthew J. Palm,, "Orlando theater community honors gun-violence victims," 21 Apr. 2018 It’s time, then, to cut short the vigil some purists have kept since Phoebe Philo left the building at Céline. Jessica Iredale, Town & Country, "When Did "Wearable" Become a Dirty Word in Fashion?," 27 Mar. 2019 Reyes and Romeo Castro, who was killed in Gary in December 2015, reportedly saw a group of Latin Kings at a vigil in the neighborhood, according to court documents, and drove to Calumet City, Ill., to get a car and rifle. Craig Lyons, Post-Tribune, "Hammond to rename street for 16-year-old 'hero' killed by gang gunfire while trying to save children," 12 June 2018

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

20 May 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

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


a strong desire or propensity

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