[vahy-kair-ee-uh s, vi-]


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 formsvi·car·i·ous·ly, adverbvi·car·i·ous·ness, vi·car·i·ism, nounnon·vi·car·i·ous, adjectivenon·vi·car·i·ous·ly, adverbnon·vi·car·i·ous·ness, nounun·vi·car·i·ous, adjectiveun·vi·car·i·ous·ly, adverbun·vi·car·i·ous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vicariously

Contemporary Examples of vicariously

  • Watching her on TV, people will have lived through her vicariously.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Palin's Reality TV Makeover

    Lee Siegel

    March 5, 2010

  • In the happy ending, the victim wins and you can vicariously enjoy her retaliation against the other woman.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Wives Gone Wild!

    Elizabeth Hayt

    February 26, 2009

Historical Examples of vicariously

  • Thus, vicariously, was Ericus Dale recognized as a great man.

    A Virginia Scout

    Hugh Pendexter

  • The birds warn the rhinoceros of danger, and he, vicariously, feeds the birds.

    The Pools of Silence

    H. de Vere Stacpoole

  • If the Church wants to take my hell (vicariously) it is welcome to it.

    Men, Women, and Gods

    Helen H. Gardener

  • Wasn't it enough for me to pay, vicariously, the tax on being absurd?

    The Sacred Fount

    Henry James

  • They bring me their troubles and their joys, and I suffer and am glad with them, vicariously.

    Mavis of Green Hill

    Faith Baldwin

British Dictionary definitions for vicariously



obtained or undergone at second hand through sympathetic participation in another's experiences
suffered, undergone, or done as the substitute for anothervicarious punishment
delegatedvicarious authority
taking the place of another
pathol (of menstrual bleeding) occurring at an abnormal siteSee endometriosis
Derived Formsvicariously, adverbvicariousness, noun

Word Origin for vicarious

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

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

vicariously in Medicine


[vī-kârē-əs, vĭ-]


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