• \LIT-uh-nee\ • noun
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
b : a usually lengthy recitation or enumeration
c : a sizable series or set
"In a silent inner litany, I say 'thank you' for the magnificent gifts of a healthy body: lungs that breathe the cool, foggy air; a nose that smells eucalyptus leaves and banana muffins; eyes that see hummingbirds swooping outside my window; a tongue that has just savored a golden, juicy peach." —Anne Cushman, The Yoga Journal, January/February 2004
"A litany of NFL stars have retired early in recent years, with most of them citing the dangers of football as the primary reason they decided to hang it up." — Alex Reimer, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2016
Did you know?
Litany came to English through Anglo-French and Late Latin, ultimately from the Greek word litaneia, meaning "entreaty." Litany refers literally to a type of prayer in which a series of lines are spoken alternately by a leader and a congregation. This use dates to the 13th century. Between that century and the 20th, three figurative senses developed. The chant-like quality of a literal litany led first to a "repetitive chant" sense. Next, the repetitious—and sometimes interminable—nature of the original litany led to a "lengthy recitation" sense. Finally, the "lengthy recitation" sense was extended to refer to any sizable series or set.

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