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

Congregants filled the church's pews for vigil shortly after regular Sunday services. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "First Church Holds Vigil In Response To Immigration Policy," 10 July 2018 David joined dozens of other students, teachers and relatives at the school Sunday evening for a vigil in Edgar’s memory. Brieanna J Frank, azcentral, "'One of the best': Vigil held for 13-year-old Tolleson boy killed in crash," 1 July 2018 During the evening, a large crowd turned up for a candlelight vigil outside Rosa’s Station 10. Alene Tchekmedyian,, "Firefighter shot dead while 'doing what all first responders are called to do — help those in need'," 26 June 2018 Nearly 80 people turned out early Sunday for the vigil. Fox News, "Vigil held to support Minnesota mosque where bacon was found," 24 June 2018 Out at RIVA Motorsports for vigil for XXXTentacion. Martin Vassolo, Rebecca Ellis And Carli Teproff, miamiherald, "XXXTentacion's great-grandmother mourns him as 'Hercules.' He had no enemies, lawyer says.," 20 June 2018 Family members and friends who were carrying blue and white balloons were preparing for a vigil that was to be held Monday night near the victim’s home. Julie Shaw,, "Cops: Slain teen in S. Philly double shooting apparently was targeted," 18 June 2018 Nearly 200 people had gathered for the vigil in remembrance of Calhoun when an argument broke out. Christian Boone, ajc, "Vigil shootout leaves Thomasville Heights feeling under siege," 14 June 2018 The community of Santa Fe gathered for a vigil to honor the victims of Friday's shooting at Santa Fe High School. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Medical Examiner describes horrific aftermath of Santa Fe shooting," 25 May 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

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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