1. Abstinence from sleep, whether at a time when sleep is customary or not; the act of keeping awake, or the state of being awake, or the state of being awake; sleeplessness; wakefulness; watch. Worn out by the labors and vigils of many months. Nothing wears out a fine face like the vigils of the card table and those cutting passions which attend them. (Addison)
2. Hence, devotional watching; waking for prayer, or other religious exercises. So they in heaven their odes and vigils tuned. (milton) Be sober and keep vigil, The judge is at the gate. (Neale (rhythm of St. Bernard))
3. Originally, the watch kept on the night before a feast. Later, the day and the night preceding a feast. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors, And say, To-morrow is St. Crispian. (Shak)
A religious service performed in the evening preceding a feast.
(Science: botany) Vigils, or Watchings, of flowers, a peculiar faculty belonging to the flowers of certain plants of opening and closing their petals as certain hours of the day.
Origin: OE. Vigile, L. Vigilia, from vigil awake, watchful, probably akin to E. Wake: cf. F. Vigile. See Wake, and cf. Reveille, Surveillance, Vedette, Vegetable, Vigor.