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

Simpson's Facebook posts and her comments at the vigil and the children's obituary posted on a Denton funeral home website give a glimpse into their young lives. Stephen English, star-telegram, "Ponder murder-suicide survivor flies to family after her children's memorial | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 25 May 2018 Readus and many others at the vigil said David Anderson was a jokester who liked to laugh. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "'Long live David': Vigil honors boy, 11, fatally shot in East Chicago while playing basketball," 9 May 2018 The vigil will feature speeches, musical performances, presentations by former patients and a candle-lighting ceremony. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville News Digest," 4 May 2018 In the Roman Catholic faith, the vigil begins with an outdoor fire, lighting up the night to disperse the darkness. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "What Is Holy Saturday, the Day Before Easter, and Why Do We Celebrate It?," 1 Mar. 2019 More During the vigil, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert stood in the middle of an intersection directing traffic. Kris Maher, WSJ, "Pittsburgh Congregations Lead Nation in Coming Together After Tragedy," 3 Nov. 2018 One reason for the declining attendance is that many student organizations are unwilling to join the vigil, arguing that the event should focus on democracy in Hong Kong, rather than mainland China. Angie Chan, New York Times, "Hong Kong Marks Tiananmen Crackdown, as China Ignores Event," 4 June 2018 Mourners at a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash that killed 20 people. Jimmy Vielkind, WSJ, "New York State Disputes Limo Lawyer’s Claims," 9 Oct. 2018 The city of Annapolis announced a vigil for the victims Friday night at a public square near the State House. Brian Witte,, "Suspect in newsroom rampage investigated for threats in 2013," 29 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

11 Mar 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

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