Definition of vicarious
1 : experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another a vicarious thrill
2a : serving instead of someone or something elseb : that has been delegated vicarious authority
3 : performed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another : substitutionary a vicarious sacrifice
4 : occurring in an unexpected or abnormal part of the body instead of the usual one vicarious menstruation manifested by bleeding from the nose
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Examples of vicarious in a Sentence
I am a vicarious eater, often preferring a description of a meal to eating it. I hoard the Wednesday food section of the New York Times, savoring it as my late-night reading, finishing always with the restaurant review. —Anne-Marie Slaughter, Commonweal, 14 June 2002
Most people caged in the humdrum routines of modern life are eager for vicarious glimpses of pain, joy, and especially vitality. —Robert Jackall et al., Image Makers, 2000
There is an immense sub-middle class with enough money to preserve it from rancorous envy of the rich, but not enough to preserve it from boredom; it needs vicarious compensations and manages to find them in the gossip columns. —Aldous Huxley, The Olive Tree, 1937
To give himself the vicarious illusion of companionship, he fell back on letters. —Amy Lowell, John Keats, 1925
By means of ferocious jokes … he could vent his hatred of pioneer life and all its conditions, those conditions that were thwarting his creative life; he could, in this vicarious manner, appease the artist in him … —Van Wyck Brooks, The Ordeal of Mark Twain, 1920
Recent Examples of vicarious from the Web
This is consistent with other findings suggesting that vicarious suffering not only leads to bad decision-making but also causes burnout and withdrawal.
For Austin and perhaps others, the thrill will soon not be vicarious.
Bright young things, far-flung beaches, off-camera selfies on set: Kendall Jenner treats her social-media followers to a vicarious look at the whirlwind, country-hopping life of a supermodel.
The temptation for a vicarious do-over is immense, and so are the stage-mom rationalizations.
Andrea Wulf’s sweeping 2015 book—part biography, part vicarious travelogue, part history-of-ideas—celebrates the man behind the memorials: the explorer and author and scientist and Romantic Alexander von Humboldt, born in Berlin in 1769.
All our investments in each other are vicarious now.
For the missileers of the 9/11 generation, relevancy — a dwindling commodity in a dwindling community — is a vicarious experience.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vicarious'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Vicarious Has Latin Roots
If you act in someone’s stead, you take his or her place, at least temporarily. The oldest meaning of "vicarious," which was first recorded in 1637, is "serving in someone or something’s stead." The word vicarious derives from the Latin noun vicis, which means "change," "alternation," or "stead." "Vicis" is also the source of the English prefix vice- (as in "vice president"), meaning "one that takes the place of."
Origin and Etymology of vicarious
Latin vicarius, from vicis change, alternation, stead — more at week
First Known Use: 1637
VICARIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vicarious for English Language Learners
: experienced or felt by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else rather than by doing something yourself
VICARIOUS Defined for Kids
Definition of vicarious for Students
: sharing in someone else's experiences through the use of imagination or sympathetic feelings She got vicarious enjoyment from her sister's travels.
Medical Definition of vicarious
: occurring in an unexpected or abnormal part of the body instead of the usual one bleeding from the gums sometimes occurs in the absence of the normal discharge from the uterus in vicarious menstruation
Seen and Heard
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