A vigil is when you stay alert to guard something, as when you keep vigil over your hen house when the foxes are out. A vigil can also be solemn, as when a candlelight vigil is held for victims of a tragedy.

Vigil comes from the Latin word for "awake," and all its meanings include the idea of watchfulness. If you're attending a vigil or keeping vigil, you shouldn't expect to take a nap. The vigil is an apt kind of demonstration for peace movements, as it's calm, non-violent, and solemn, with participants standing quietly — sometimes holding candles.

Definitions of vigil

n a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe

continuous receiver watch, listening watch
a watch established for the reception of traffic of interest to the unit maintaining the watch
keeping a secret or furtive watch
Type of:
close observation of a person or group (usually by the police)

n the rite of staying awake for devotional purposes (especially on the eve of a religious festival)

viewing, wake
a vigil held over a corpse the night before burial
a vigil before certain feasts (as e.g. Easter)
Type of:
religious rite, rite
an established ceremony prescribed by a religion

n a period of sleeplessness

Type of:
a periodic state during which you are conscious and aware of the world

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