Definition of vigil in English:


Line breaks: vigil
Pronunciation: /ˈvɪdʒɪl


1A period of keeping awake during the time usually spent asleep, especially to keep watch or pray: my birdwatching vigils lasted for hours as he lay in a coma the family kept vigil
More example sentences
  • A mourner, fallen asleep in a late-night vigil, awakes the next morning to find that not only are his trousers missing, but the corpse has been stolen as well.
  • But when I came and kept vigil in his armchair while he lay on his left ribs, his back rolled around him like an exoskeleton, all night I stared at his books neat in their shelves.
  • In the old days families kept vigil and ate little ‘Soul’ cakes.
1.1A stationary, peaceful demonstration in support of a particular cause, typically without speeches: the group held a candlelight vigil outside the jail
More example sentences
  • N.O.W. was planning to hold a candlelight vigil outside the jail where Yates is being held.
  • The local authorities' campaign headquarters plans to hold protest vigils outside the treasury every few days, each time representing two different municipalities.
  • On March 27, about 200 teachers and students from the Wellington and Hutt Valley regions staged a protest vigil outside parliament.
2(In the Christian Church) the eve of a festival or holy day as an occasion of religious observance.
More example sentences
  • The Christmas pageant involving the children from Culleens and Kilglass N.S. will take place during the Gospel at the Christmas night vigil Mass in Kilglass Church.
  • It is at pains to point out that much of the ceremony took place during the Christmas vigil and on the feast of the Nativity.
  • The vigil Mass for Christmas will take place in Rathdowney Church on Christmas Eve at 9pm.
2.1 (vigils) Nocturnal devotions.
More example sentences
  • Cowled figures slip quietly from the monastic enclosure into the abbey church for vigils and lauds, an almost two-hour service that establishes the quiet and contemplative atmosphere of the abbey and the order.


Middle English (in sense 2): via Old French from Latin vigilia, from vigil 'awake'.

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