1 : the quality or state of being changeable : mutability
2 a : a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance : a fluctuation of state or condition
b : a difficulty or hardship usually beyond one's control
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.
"The vicissitudes of life strike us all. But when life gets difficult for the poor, economically or emotionally, or most often both at once, it can pitch them into complete chaos." — The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 22 Aug. 2016
"A good coach on tour is at once a friend and a taskmaster, a psychologist and an emotional buffer against the vicissitudes of competing at the highest level of the game." — Geoff Macdonald, The New York Times, 1 Sept. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What descendant of vicis can mean "experienced or felt by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else"?VIEW THE ANSWER
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