Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably


[vij-uh l] /ˈvɪdʒ əl/
wakefulness maintained for any reason during the normal hours for sleeping.
a watch or a period of watchful attention maintained at night or at other times:
The nurse kept her vigil at the bedside of the dying man.
a period of wakefulness from inability to sleep.
  1. a devotional watching, or keeping awake, during the customary hours of sleep.
  2. Sometimes, vigils. a nocturnal devotional exercise or service, especially on the eve before a church festival.
  3. the eve, or day and night, before a church festival, especially an eve that is a fast.
Origin of vigil
1200-50; Middle English vigil(i)e < Anglo-French < Medieval Latin vigilia eve of a holy day, special use of Latin vigilia watchfulness, equivalent to vigil sentry + -ia -y3 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for vigil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But it will never do to begin the night's vigil in this low key.

  • He cleared the room, and took up his vigil outside the door.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • For though she knew the uselessness of the vigil proposed to her, she none the less determined to complete it.

    The Sword of Damocles Anna Katharine Green
  • Of everything else—the vigil, the preparations, the funeral—he remembered nothing.

  • We believe he heard some expert opinions on the subject of the "roncadors" of the camp during his vigil.

British Dictionary definitions for vigil


a purposeful watch maintained, esp at night, to guard, observe, pray, etc
the period of such a watch
(RC Church, Church of England) the eve of certain major festivals, formerly observed as a night spent in prayer: often marked by fasting and abstinence and a special Mass and divine office
a period of sleeplessness; insomnia
Word Origin
C13: from Old French vigile, from Medieval Latin vigilia watch preceding a religious festival, from Latin: vigilance, from vigil alert, from vigēre to be lively
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for vigil

early 13c., "eve of a religious festival" (an occasion for devotional watching or observance), from Anglo-French and Old French vigile, from Latin vigilia "watch, watchfulness," from vigil "watchful, awake," from PIE *wog-/*weg- "be lively or active, be strong" (cf. Latin vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast, lively," vegere "to enliven;" Sanskrit vaja- "strength, speed;" Old English wacan "to wake up, arise," wacian "to be awake;" Old High German wahta "watch, vigil"). Meaning "watch kept on a festival eve" is from late 14c.; that of "occasion of keeping awake for some purpose" is recorded from 1711.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for vigil

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for vigil

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for vigil