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 The local Reading Borough Council has organized an online vigil later Saturday for the three friends. Washington Post, "UK police charge suspect with murder of 3 in Reading park," 27 June 2020 Ernesto Yeboah, the vigil’s lead organizer, was arrested and faces a hefty fine or jail time. Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Quartz Africa, "After George Floyd, Ghana’s simple message to African Americans: “Come home”," 20 June 2020 Last week, Beijing banned Hong Kong’s annual vigil to massacre victims, but people showed up anyway. National Geographic, "What would victory be?," 8 June 2020 In Tokyo, dozens of people gathered in a peaceful protest, while nearby in Bangkok, activists held a virtual vigil online observing 8 minutes 46 seconds of silence. NBC News, "London protesters clash with police as thousands around world defy coronavirus bans to demonstrate," 6 June 2020 Thursday's vigil, in which participants held candles, defied an official ban on gatherings in Hong Kong due to the coronavirus pandemic. Harold Maass, TheWeek, "10 things you need to know today: June 5, 2020," 5 June 2020 Organizers of Wednesday's vigil plan to be outside District 1 again Thursday. Sarah Brookbank,, "George Floyd protest: No protest arrests, vigil planned for Thursday," 4 June 2020 That came after authorities in Hong Kong took the extraordinary move of canceling an annual candlelight vigil in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's Victoria Park for the first time in 30 years. Fox News, "China marks Tiananmen anniversary with crackdown, ban on Hong Kong vigil," 4 June 2020 Thousands flooded into Victoria Park, the usual venue for the annual vigil, which this year was forbidden for the first time by police, who cited public-health concerns because of the coronavirus. Natasha Khan, WSJ, "Thousands Defy Beijing With Hong Kong Vigil for Tiananmen Victims," 4 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for vigil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for vigil

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vigil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce vigil (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vigil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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