from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The last of the canonical hours, recited or sung just before retiring.
  • noun The time of day appointed for this service.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Eccl.) The last division of the Roman Catholic breviary; the seventh and last of the canonical hours of the Western church; the last prayer of the day, to be said after sunset.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun the last of the canonical hours, sung just before retiring

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun last of the seven canonical hours just before retiring


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, alteration (probably influenced by matines, matins) of compli, from Old French complie, from Medieval Latin (hōra) complēta, final (hour), from Latin complētus, past participle of complēre, to complete; see complete.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word compline.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Prayer service held just before bedtime. (from Phrontistery)

    May 24, 2008

  • When I first encountered this word, I thought it referred to a 24-hour computer support hotline.

    May 24, 2008