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[ves-per] /ˈvɛs pər/
(initial capital letter) the evening star, especially Venus; Hesperus.
Also called vesper bell. a bell rung at evening.
vespers, (sometimes initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical.
  1. a religious service in the late afternoon or the evening.
  2. the sixth of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it, occurring in the late afternoon or the evening.
  3. Roman Catholic Church. a part of the office to be said in the evening by those in major orders, frequently made a public ceremony in the afternoons or evenings of Sundays and holy days.
  4. evensong.
Archaic. evening.
of, pertaining to, appearing in, or proper to the evening.
of or relating to vespers.
Origin of vesper
1350-1400; Middle English, partly < Latin: evening, evening star; partly < Old French vespres evening service < Medieval Latin vesperās, accusative plural of Latin vespera, feminine variant of vesper; cognate with Greek hésperos; akin to west Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vespers
Historical Examples
  • When vespers ended he returned to the house of the alcalde, where he was quartered.

  • He was roused from these reflections by sudden silence; vespers were over.

    En Route J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • There are many people who listen to a sermon in the same way as they listen to vespers.

    Pascal's Penses Blaise Pascal
  • Thus he passed the time till the hour of vespers and supper.

    En Route J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • The borer is the despair of the land-owner; he works underground; no Sicilian vespers for him until he becomes a cockchafer!

    Sons of the Soil Honore de Balzac
  • The next Sunday, there was the unwonted occurrence of a sermon after vespers.

    Earl Hubert's Daughter Emily Sarah Holt
  • I went to vespers; when I came home I found Emelyanoushka sitting in the window, drunk and rocking to and fro.

    Short Stories Fiodor Dostoievski
  • She's been entreating the captain to let her go ashore for vespers.

  • There are many people who listen to the sermon as they listen to vespers.

  • If it is to be done by vespers, we want all the hands we can get.

    In Convent Walls Emily Sarah Holt
British Dictionary definitions for vespers


noun (functioning as singular or pl)
(mainly RC Church) the sixth of the seven canonical hours of the divine office, originally fixed for the early evening and now often made a public service on Sundays and major feast days
another word for evensong (sense 1)


an evening prayer, service, or hymn
an archaic word for evening
(modifier) of or relating to vespers
See also vespers
Word Origin
C14: from Latin: evening, the evening star; compare Greek hesperos evening; see west


the planet Venus, when appearing as the evening star
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vespers



late 14c., "the evening star," from Old French vespre, from Latin vesper (masc.), vespera (fem.) "evening star, evening, west," related to Greek hesperos, and ultimately from PIE *wespero- (cf. Old Church Slavonic večeru, Lithuanian vakaras, Welsh ucher, Old Irish fescor "evening"), from root *we- "down" (cf. Sanskrit avah "down, downward"). Meaning "evening" is attested from c.1600.

Vespers "sixth canonical hour" is attested from 1610s, from plural of Latin vespera "evening;" the native name was evensong (Old English æfen-sang).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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