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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But officials caution the public to remain vigilant. Rosanna Xiastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan. 2023 California’s Office of Emergency Management urged residents to stay vigilant about evacuation orders as more storms are forecast to arrive Sunday and Monday before finally subsiding. Ginger Adams Otis, WSJ, 14 Jan. 2023 So Sabado-Liwag suggests, in addition to masks and vaccines, being extra vigilant about testing after a long night on the mic. Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2022 And while the overwhelming majority of Americans will perform their civic duty without experiencing any issues, some political analysts are urging voters to be vigilant about predictable conspiracy theories that could be in circulation. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 7 Nov. 2022 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cautioned the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas to remain vigilant about election fraud, and touted his record on taking the Biden Administration to court. Rylee Wilson, Dallas News, 5 Aug. 2022 So those affected should be vigilant about practicing good dental hygiene. Hannah Seo, New York Times, 18 July 2022 Strains that combine aspects of more than one strain are yet another reason to stay vigilant about COVID-19, said Orange County health officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong. al, 8 Apr. 2022 Both physicians and parents should remain vigilant. Dr. Michael Daignault, USA TODAY, 29 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vigilant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 5 Feb. 2023.

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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