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Middle English letanie, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin litania, from Late Greek litaneia, from Greek, entreaty, from litanos supplicant


  • 1 : a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation
  • 2 a : a resonant or repetitive chant <a litany of cheering phrases — Herman Wouk> b : a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration <a familiar litany of complaints> c : a sizable series or set <a litany of problems>


A litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Jewish worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions. The word comes from the Latin litania and the Ancient Greek: λιτανεία (litaneía), which in turn comes from Ancient Greek: λιτή (litê), meaning "supplication".