1. constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.
  2. Law. the degree of care and caution required by the circumstances of a person.
  3. Obsolete. care; caution.

noun, plural dil·i·gen·ces [dil-i-juh n-siz; French dee-lee-zhahns] /ˈdɪl ɪ dʒən sɪz; French di liˈʒɑ̃s/.

  1. a public stagecoach, especially as formerly used in France.


  1. steady and careful application
  2. proper attention or care
  3. law the degree of care required in a given situation


  1. history a stagecoach

mid-14c., from Old French diligence “attention, care; haste, speed,” from Latin diligentia “attentiveness, carefulness,” from diligentem (nominative diligens) “attentive, assiduous, careful,” originally present participle of diligere “single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate,” originally “to pick out, select,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) + legere “choose, gather” (see lecture (n.)).

Sense evolved from “love” through “attentiveness” to “carefulness” to “steady effort.” From the secondary French sense comes the old useage of diligence for “public stage coach” (1742; dilly for short), from a French shortening of carrosse de diligence.

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