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