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[vahy-kair-ee-uh s, vi-] /vaɪˈkɛər i əs, vɪ-/
performed, exercised, received, or suffered in place of another:
vicarious punishment.
taking the place of another person or thing; acting or serving as a substitute.
felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others:
a vicarious thrill.
Physiology. noting or pertaining to a situation in which one organ performs part of the functions normally performed by another.
Origin of vicarious
1630-40; < Latin vicārius substituting, equivalent to vic(is) (genitive) interchange, alternation (see vice3), + -ārius -ary; see -ous
Related forms
vicariously, adverb
vicariousness, vicariism, noun
nonvicarious, adjective
nonvicariously, adverb
nonvicariousness, noun
unvicarious, adjective
unvicariously, adverb
unvicariousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vicariously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She is not literally, but virtually or officially, representatively or vicariously present wherever her regal authority is swayed.

  • Her heart sank, and she suffered for him vicariously in advance.

    Old Kaskaskia Mary Hartwell Catherwood
  • By night he vicariously operated a chop-suey palace on Seventh Avenue, where congregated the worst elements of the Tenderloin.

    Tutt and Mr. Tutt Arthur Train
  • And it is certainly patent to the most out-and-out sceptic that I shall have to get all my Romance vicariously.

    Mavis of Green Hill Faith Baldwin
  • Sharing in actual pursuit, whether directly or vicariously in play, is at least personal and vital.

  • The Cuban people were vicariously committed to the policy of forcible separation from Spain.

    The History of Cuba, vol. 3 Willis Fletcher Johnson
  • As a representative of the American people, I received for my nation, vicariously, the stripes intended for many generations.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • Never again would the worn old wrist watch serve its owner, except thus, vicariously!

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for vicariously


/vɪˈkɛərɪəs; vaɪ-/
obtained or undergone at second hand through sympathetic participation in another's experiences
suffered, undergone, or done as the substitute for another: vicarious punishment
delegated: vicarious authority
taking the place of another
(pathol) (of menstrual bleeding) occurring at an abnormal site See endometriosis
Derived Forms
vicariously, adverb
vicariousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin vicārius substituted, from vicis interchange; see vice³, vicissitude
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vicariously



1630s, from Latin vicarius "substitute, deputy" (adj. and n.), from vicis "turn, change, exchange, substitution," from PIE root *weik-, *weig- "to bend, wind" (cf. Sanskrit visti "changing, changeable;" Old English wician "to give way, yield," wice "wych elm;" Old Norse vikja "to bend, turn;" Swedish viker "willow twig, wand;" German wechsel "change"). Related: Vicariously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vicariously in Medicine

vicarious vi·car·i·ous (vī-kâr'ē-əs, -kār'-, vĭ-)

  1. Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.

  2. Occurring in or performed by a part of the body not normally associated with a certain function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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