Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

vicissitude

play
noun vi·cis·si·tude \və-ˈsi-sə-ˌtüd, vī-, -ˌtyüd\

Definition of vicissitude

  1. 1 a :  the quality or state of being changeable :  mutability b :  natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs

  2. 2 a :  a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance :  a fluctuation of state or condition <the vicissitudes of daily life> b :  a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one's control c :  alternating change :  succession



Did You Know?

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better, wrote British theologian Richard Hooker in the 16th century. That observation may shed some light on vicissitude, a word that can refer simply to the fact of change, or to an instance of it, but that often refers specifically to hardship or difficulty brought about by change. To survive "the vicissitudes of life" is thus to survive life's ups and downs, with special emphasis on the downs. Vicissitude is a descendant of the Latin noun vicis, meaning "change" or "alternation," and it has been a part of the English language since the 16th century. In contemporary usage, it most often occurs in the plural.

Origin and Etymology of vicissitude

Middle French, from Latin vicissitudo, from vicissim in turn, from vicis change, alternation — more at week


First Known Use: circa 1576



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vicissitude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not forbidden by law

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

two-chairs-on-a-pier-by-the-ocean-in-summer

Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?

vernal brumal estival hiemal
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ