[ vij-uh-luhnt ]
/ ˈvɪdʒ ə lənt /
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See synonyms for: vigilant / vigilantly on Thesaurus.com

keenly watchful to detect danger; wary: a vigilant sentry.
ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.


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Origin of vigilant

First recorded in 1470–80; from Latin vigilant- (stem of vigilāns ), present participle of vigilāre “to be watchful”; see vigil, -ant

synonym study for vigilant

2. See alert.



vigilant , vigilante
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does vigilant mean?

To be vigilant is to be watchful or alert for danger or some other kind of trouble.

Vigilant can describe a person or an action. It is often used when talking about keeping something out or in—whether that means keeping mistakes out of your work, robbers out of your home, or the dog inside the house.

Example: We must be vigilant if we want to protect our home from invaders.

Where does vigilant come from?

The first records of vigilant in English come from the 1470s. It comes from the Latin word vigilāns (meaning “keeping awake”), which is derived from the Latin word vigilāre (meaning “to be watchful”). It is related to other words that imply watchfulness (and sometimes potential danger), such as vigil and vigilante. In fact, the Latin word vigil means “sentry,” a person who stands guard, such as to look out for dangers such as invaders, escapees, or fire.

To be vigilant, then, is to behave like a guard who watches to make sure that bad things don’t happen. Of course, those bad things can take many forms, depending on the context in which vigilant is used. Someone might tell you to be vigilant while walking home in the dark. A shepherd needs to be vigilant for wolves. But being vigilant sometimes involves watching out for unknown dangers. A parent might be vigilant when monitoring their children’s internet use. And election officials may keep a vigilant watch over voters. In all cases, being vigilant means being watchful and alert without letting your guard down. It doesn’t always have to involve the potential for danger or trouble, but it usually does.

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What are some other forms of vigilant?

  • vigilance (noun)
  • vigilantly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for vigilant?

What are some words that share a root or word element with vigilant

What are some words that often get used in discussing vigilant?

How is vigilant used in real life?

Vigilant is often used in serious contexts, such as safety, politics, and national security.



Try using vigilant!

Is vigilant used correctly in the following sentence?

His vigilant gaze allowed the dog to slip out the door while he wasn’t looking.

How to use vigilant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vigilant

/ (ˈvɪdʒɪlənt) /

keenly alert to or heedful of trouble or danger, as while others are sleeping or unsuspicious

Derived forms of vigilant

vigilantly, adverbvigilantness, noun

Word Origin for vigilant

C15: from Latin vigilāns keeping awake, from vigilāre to be watchful; see vigil
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