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Borrowed from Latin vicārius (vicarious, substituted).



vicarious (not comparable)

  1. Experienced or gained by the loss or to the consequence of another person, rather than through first-hand experience, such as through watching or reading.
    People experience vicarious pleasures through watching television.
  2. Done on behalf of others
    The concept of vicarious atonement, that one person can atone for the sins of another, is found in many religions.


1886 1900 1920
ME « 15th c. 16th c. 17th c. 18th c. 19th c. 20th c. 21st c.
  • 1886Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ch 10
    The pleasures which I made haste to seek in my disguise were, as I have said, undignified; I would scarce use a harder term. But in the hands of Edward Hyde, they soon began to turn toward the monstrous. When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity.
  • 1900James Frazer, The Golden Bough ch 26
    As time went on, the cruel custom was so far mitigated that a ram was accepted as a vicarious sacrifice in room of the royal victim.
  • 1920H. Rider Haggard, The Blue Curtains ch III
    In these, however, he had not much time to indulge, for a footman, still decked in the trappings of vicarious grief, opened the door with the most startling promptitude, and he was ushered upstairs into a small but richly furnished room.

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