Definition of compline in US English:



  • A service of evening prayers forming part of the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church, traditionally said (or chanted) before retiring for the night.

    • ‘It ends 16 hours later with compline, after which the monks return to their cells for contemplation, prayer and sleep.’
    • ‘At compline, a guitar was played and the psalmody was clearly not Gregorian.’
    • ‘So begins one of my favorite prayers, from the service for compline in the Episcopal prayer book.’
    • ‘With the household interns we observe the ancient practice of fixed-hour prayer, keeping whenever possible four offices each day: morning prayers, midday prayers, vespers, and compline.’
    • ‘Later in the evening came compline, followed by the midnight office.’
    • ‘I cannot be concentrating on reciting lauds and compline at church, or on private prayers at home, and at the same time fully attend to my granddaughter's emotional needs - or talk over some thorny bioethical question with my husband.’
    • ‘After their meal they retire to their caves and cells for the rest of the day, emerging only to sing lauds, vespers and compline at the appointed times.’
    • ‘The 30-minute worship draws upon an Anglican prayer service from New Zealand, Lutheran or Episcopal compline, and Holden Evening Prayer.’
    • ‘The rhythm of my days goes slower now: matins and lauds, vespers and compline.’
    • ‘The final church, St Nicholas at Fyfield, was reached shortly after 4pm where the day was completed with tea followed by compline.’


Middle English: from Old French complie, feminine past participle of obsolete complir ‘to complete’, from Latin complere ‘fill up’ (see complete). The ending -ine was probably influenced by Old French matines ‘matins’.