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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. Anglican Church. evensong (def 1).
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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vespers
Historical Examples
  • The bell rang for vespers, and Greta did not go to the chapel.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • But it is half-past five, I hear the bell ringing my vespers.

  • Then, on that night, after vespers, great noises were heard.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • When vespers were over and the cardinals were departing, I left them.

    Lucretia Borgia Ferdinand Gregorovius
  • Shall Nance and I call by for you on the way to vespers, then?

  • Thus he passed the time till the hour of vespers and supper.

    En Route

    J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • There, moreover, vespers were celebrated with more solemnity and less haste.

    En Route

    J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • He was roused from these reflections by sudden silence; vespers were over.

    En Route

    J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • The next Sunday, there was the unwonted occurrence of a sermon after vespers.

    Earl Hubert's Daughter Emily Sarah Holt
  • She's been entreating the captain to let her go ashore for vespers.

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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