Definition of vicarious in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /vəˈkerēəs/


1Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person: I could glean vicarious pleasure from the struggles of my imaginary film friends
More example sentences
  • Yet, curiously, it is a secondary, indirect, and vicarious experience.
  • Empathy and familiarity with someone gives rise to a vicarious capacity to experience his responses, a kind of second nature.
  • But you can give your mates a good time they could not possibly have had before, and that gives you vicarious pleasure.
indirect, secondhand, secondary, derivative, derived, surrogate, substitute;
1.1Acting or done for another: a vicarious atonement
More example sentences
  • Christians believe that to be saved you have to embrace Jesus as the Messiah, you have to believe in vicarious atonement, you have to believe that Jesus died for your sins, you have to believe that Jesus is the Incarnation.
  • Most Christians, although they may be suspicious of vicarious confession, do believe in vicarious atonement: the idea that someone's virtue or suffering can benefit someone else.
  • Jews, I had read and heard (including from many Jews), simply do not believe in vicarious atonement, whereas Christians obviously do.
1.2 Physiology Of or pertaining to the performance by one organ of the functions normally discharged by another.



Pronunciation: /vəˈkerēəsnəs/ /vīˈkerēəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • I think it is, I think the passion for justice is very strong in me but the greatest challenge for me in that is where so readily you can get disembodied from the people who are suffering and it can be turned into a cause, vicariousness.
  • Yet, I would prefer to locate the difference between suffering and compassion, not in the intensity of the agony endured, but in the fact that the latter contains an element of intentionality and vicariousness that the former lacks.
  • More subtly perhaps, the incamational model of the atonement undercuts the sense of vicariousness that underlies the satisfaction and penal models.


Mid 17th century: from Latin vicarius 'substitute' (see vicar) + -ous.

Words that rhyme with vicarious

Aquarius, calcareous, Darius, denarius, gregarious, hilarious, multifarious, nefarious, omnifarious, precarious, Sagittarius, senarius, Stradivarius, temerarious, various

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: vi·car·i·ous

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words