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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
  • What an enjoyable article, it was great fun to visit these old saloons vicariously.
  • We can live our lives vicariously through the modern day gladiators.
  • It's always exciting to experience sudden money, even vicariously.
  • Yet even if you never set foot inside, you can experience the house vicariously.
  • We decry violence, yet millions of us pay good money to revel in it vicariously.
  • They labor in anonymity and take their satisfaction vicariously.
  • Thereafter she pours out her heart in her songs and lives vicariously in the happiness of others.
  • Two little kids living vicariously on the same uncharted island.
  • Both moments were lived, vicariously, by their authors.
  • As a general rule, parties to a joint venture are mutually and vicariously liable for injuries or harms caused by their venture.
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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