vig·​il | \ ˈvi-jəl \

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

USA TODAY Candles lit up a Phoenix park Saturday night as a small group of local journalists and members of the community gathered at a vigil, honoring the victims of the Capital Gazette newspaper shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "'We will not be silenced': Reporter at vigil for 5 slain in Capital Gazette shooting," 1 July 2018 Xiarhos said a candlelight vigil is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at police headquarters. Emily Sweeney,, "‘It’s just such a loss for us’: Gannon remembered as dedicated," 13 Apr. 2018 The vigil is scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Tualatin High School turf field. Lizzy Acker,, "Vigil to 'demand change' after Florida school shooting planned for Monday night in Tualatin," 19 Feb. 2018 Buzzfeed reported that the Berkeley, California resident's cause of death was (and still is, at the time of reporting) unknown, but that a candlelight vigil to honor his life would be held in Berkeley on Thursday, November 29. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Brandon Moore, Creator of the "What Are Those?" Vine, Has Died at 31," 28 Nov. 2018 After a brief service, the vigil moved outside to accommodate a larger crowd. Jennifer Hijazi, Vox, "After Pittsburgh, the interfaith response sends message of solidarity across the religious divide," 28 Oct. 2018 Some of her classmates put together a prayer vigil Monday night at Norwood High School. Jessica Schmidt,, "Tragedy strikes again: Teen in coma after crash," 10 July 2018 The vigil for immigrants took place before U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's July 5 town hall meeting at the library. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With pleas from the public to show compassion, Jim Sensenbrenner calls immigration system a 'mess' during Brookfield town hall," 6 July 2018 Well wishers hold vigils in schools and temples across the country. Time, "A Youth Soccer Team Has Been Trapped in a Thai Cave for More Than a Week. Here's Why It's Taking So Long to Find Them," 2 July 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

14 Jan 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 \

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

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