• synonyms


[vahy-kair-ee-uh s, vi-]
  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.
  3. felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others: a vicarious thrill.
  4. Physiology. noting or pertaining to a situation in which one organ performs part of the functions normally performed by another.
Show More

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vicariousness

Historical Examples of vicariousness

  • Of one part of His work, of the sacrifice which He offered for man's guilt, the essence was its vicariousness.

    Lux Mundi


British Dictionary definitions for vicariousness


  1. obtained or undergone at second hand through sympathetic participation in another's experiences
  2. suffered, undergone, or done as the substitute for anothervicarious punishment
  3. delegatedvicarious authority
  4. taking the place of another
  5. pathol (of menstrual bleeding) occurring at an abnormal siteSee endometriosis
Show More
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 vicariousness



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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vicariousness in Medicine


(vī-kârē-əs, 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.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.