[ vahy-kair-ee-uhs, vi- ]
See synonyms for vicarious on
  1. performed, exercised, received, or suffered in place of another: vicarious punishment.

  2. taking the place of another person or thing; acting or serving as a substitute.

  1. felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others: a vicarious thrill.

  2. Physiology. noting or pertaining to a situation in which one organ performs part of the functions normally performed by another.

Origin of vicarious

First recorded in 1630–40; from Latin vicārius “substituting,” equivalent to vic(is) (genitive) “interchange, alternation” (see vice3) + -ārius -ary; see -ous

Other words from vicarious

  • vi·car·i·ous·ly, adverb
  • vi·car·i·ous·ness, vi·car·i·ism, noun
  • non·vi·car·i·ous, adjective
  • non·vi·car·i·ous·ness, noun
  • un·vi·car·i·ous, adjective
  • un·vi·car·i·ous·ness, noun

Words Nearby vicarious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use vicarious in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vicarious


/ (vɪˈkɛərɪəs, vaɪ-) /

  1. obtained or undergone at second hand through sympathetic participation in another's experiences

  2. suffered, undergone, or done as the substitute for another: vicarious punishment

  1. delegated: vicarious authority

  2. taking the place of another

  3. pathol (of menstrual bleeding) occurring at an abnormal site: See endometriosis

Origin of vicarious

C17: from Latin vicārius substituted, from vicis interchange; see vice ³, vicissitude

Derived forms of vicarious

  • vicariously, adverb
  • vicariousness, noun

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