vig·​i·​lant ˈvi-jə-lənt How to pronounce vigilant (audio)
: alertly watchful especially to avoid danger
vigilantly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for vigilant

watchful, vigilant, wide-awake, alert mean being on the lookout especially for danger or opportunity.

watchful is the least explicit term.

the watchful eye of the department supervisor

vigilant suggests intense, unremitting, wary watchfulness.

eternally vigilant in the safeguarding of democracy

wide-awake applies to watchfulness for opportunities and developments more often than dangers.

wide-awake companies latched onto the new technology

alert stresses readiness or promptness in meeting danger or in seizing opportunity.

alert traders anticipated the stock market's slide

Examples of vigilant in a Sentence

Over the years, as tension between pitchers and hit batsmen heightened to the point that hitters began rushing the mound, umpires have had to become far more vigilant about keeping the game from degenerating into a dogfight. Buzz Bissinger, Sports Illustrated, 21 Mar. 2005
At the Château de Wideville's magnificent seventeenth-century gates, guests have their names ticked off by vigilant staff and then snake through a lugubrious park à l'anglaise. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, September 2002
And as a foreign tourist in North Korea, under the care of vigilant minders who wanted me to see only the best, I had enjoyed the finest fare available. Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, January 2001
A vigilant hand had, as usual, kept the fire alive and the lamp trimmed; and the room, with its rows and rows of books, its bronze and steel statuettes of "The Fencers" on the mantelpiece and its many photographs of famous pictures, looked singularly home-like and welcoming. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, 1920
When traveling through the city, tourists should be extra vigilant. They were vigilant about protecting their children. We remain vigilant against theft.
Recent Examples on the Web Robach encouraged listeners to stay vigilant during this weekend’s festivities., 4 July 2024 The threat of severe thunderstorms remained, with the director of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, John Benson, urging residents to stay vigilant. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 24 June 2024 Health officials are urging Henderson County public to remain vigilant and report any interactions with raccoons to authorities immediately to reduce the risk of rabies transmission. Evan Rosen, New York Daily News, 21 June 2024 Officials warned residents to remain vigilant and be prepared to evacuate if fire activity changes. Thao Nguyen, USA TODAY, 16 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for vigilant 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vigilant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English (Scots), from Latin vigilant-, vigilans, from present participle of vigilare to keep watch, stay awake, from vigil awake

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vigilant was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near vigilant

Cite this Entry

“Vigilant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


vig·​i·​lant ˈvij-ə-lənt How to pronounce vigilant (audio)
: alert to signs of danger
vigilantly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vigilant

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