vice president

or vice-pres·i·dent

[ vahys-prez-i-duhnt ]
/ ˈvaɪs ˈprɛz ɪ dənt /
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an officer next in rank to a president who serves as president in the president's absence.
an officer next in rank to a president who serves as a deputy to the president or oversees a special division or function.
U.S. Government. the officer of this rank who is elected at the same time as the president and who succeeds to the presidency upon the resignation, removal, death, or disability of the president: Lincoln's first vice president was Hannibal Hamlin.
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Origin of vice president

First recorded in 1565–75

OTHER WORDS FROM vice president

vice pres·i·den·cy, vice-pres·i·den·cy, nounvice-pres·i·den·tial, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Why is the term vice president in the news?

On August 11, 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced he selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2020 presidential election.

More context and information on vice president

Joe Biden represented Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973 until 2009. He served as Vice President to Barack Obama between 2009–2017. Previously serving as Attorney General of California and District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris has represented California in the U.S. Senate since 2017. As Biden’s running mate, Harris is the first Black woman—as well as the first person of Indian descent—to be nominated on a major presidential ticket, the New York Times explains.

The phrase vice president has been recorded since the mid-1500s. At its most general level, vice president refers to someone who serves as a deputy to a president or serves as president in the president’s absence.

In the U.S., the specific office of vice president is mentioned 26 times in the U.S. Constitution. The first use is in Article I, Section 3, in which the vice president is given the power of a tie-breaking vote in the Senate: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

The other constitutional duty of the vice president is to succeed the president if they die, resign, are removed, or experience a disability preventing them from serving. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution only vaguely indicates that the office of the president devolves on the vice president if the president dies, resigns, or is unable to execute the duties; the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically established the succession to the presidency in the event of the president’s death, resignation, or incapacity.

Vice president is commonly abbreviated as V.P. (recorded in the late 1800s) and the informal veep (based on V.P. and recorded in the 1940s).

What does the vice in vice president mean?

The vice in vice president is not to be confused with the noun vice, as in “an immoral or evil habit or practice.”

The vice in vice president is a combining form (that acts like a modifier) used to denote “deputy,” “assistant,” or “substitute” in titles. This vice comes from the Latin preposition vice, meaning “in stead of, in place of.” So, a vice president performs the duties in place of the president in the event that the president cannot, such as if the president dies or is incapacitated.

This vice is related to the one used in the phrase vice versa, which means “in reverse order from the way something has been stated; the other way around.” For instance: We should favor doing what’s right over what’s easy, not vice versa.

Examples of some other words that feature vice-:

Did you know … ?

John Adams was the first vice president. He went on to become the second president of the U.S.

Gerald Ford is the only person to ever become president without being elected president or vice president: he replaced Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, after Agnew resigned in 1973 and then became president after Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.

How to use vice president in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vice president

vice president

an officer ranking immediately below a president and serving as his deputy. A vice president takes the president's place during his absence or incapacity, after his death, and in certain other circumstancesAbbreviation: VP, V. Pres

Derived forms of vice president

vice presidency, nounvice presidential, adjective
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