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

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 Robinson said loved ones plan to honor her son with a vigil and balloon release on Friday. Jozsef Papp, ajc, 4 Aug. 2022 Over 100 community members remembered the family at a vigil and balloon release Monday for their dedication to the Oriole Park Falcons cheerleading and football teams. Adriana Pérez, Chicago Tribune, 3 Aug. 2022 Friends and family also had a vigil in Kavas’s memory Saturday night. Carol Robinson |, al, 1 Aug. 2022 Six people are shot near Yout and Carter streets in Racine during a vigil honoring a homicide victim who had been killed a year prior., 29 July 2022 In that same spirit, a vigil and other events are planned to commemorate the tragedy. Erik S. Hanley, Journal Sentinel, 27 July 2022 On Sunday, the league held a vigil that brought together players and Carroll’s family to honor him. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 July 2022 Abbott's schedule from May 25 to June 14 indicates that his last visit to Uvalde was on May 29, when President Joe Biden also visited a public vigil in the South Texas town. Ariana Garcia, Chron, 18 July 2022 Detroit:About 200 people attended the Detroit Police 2nd Precinct’s vigil Friday afternoon in honor of Officer Loren Courts, 40, who was killed in the line of duty July 6. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 18 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vigil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for vigil


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

Kids Definition of vigil

: an act of keeping watch especially when sleep is usual

More from Merriam-Webster on vigil

Nglish: Translation of vigil for Spanish Speakers

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


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