Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another: read about mountain climbing and experienced vicarious thrills.
  • adj. Endured or done by one person substituting for another: vicarious punishment.
  • adj. Acting or serving in place of someone or something else; substituted.
  • adj. Committed or entrusted to another, as powers or authority; delegated.
  • adj. Physiology Occurring in or performed by a part of the body not normally associated with a certain function.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Experienced or gained by the loss or to the consequence of another, such as through watching or reading.
  • adj. Done on behalf of others

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a vicar, substitute, or deputy; deputed; delegated.
  • adj. Acting or suffering for another.
  • adj. Performed ,experienced, or suffered in the place of another; substituted.
  • adj. Acting as a substitute; -- said of abnormal action which replaces a suppressed normal function.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In paleontology, said of representative, closely related species or genera of fossil organisms occurring in homotaxial formations of different faunal provinces.
  • Of or belonging to a vicar or substitute; deputed; delegated: as, vicarious power or authority.
  • Acting for or officially representing another: as, a vicarious agent or officer.
  • Performed or suffered for another.
  • In physiology, substitutive: noting the performance by one organ of the functions normally belonging to another; compensatory.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. experienced at secondhand
  • adj. suffered or done by one person as a substitute for another
  • adj. occurring in an abnormal part of the body instead of the usual site involved in that function

Etymologies

From Latin vicārius; see vicar.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin vicārius "vicarious, substituted" (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In fact, the term vicarious liability did not appear in the amended petition, and she charged all defendants, including Prime Holding, for the injuries.

    Class Action Fairness Act Blog

  • I think if people are feeling sad or depressed or what we call vicarious traumatization, so that somebody else is traumatized and you vicariously experience the symptoms of post traumatic distress disorder, or acute stress disorder, then you need to talk to others for support, for counsel.

    CNN Transcript Apr 17, 2007

  • But we come now to a matter which, to most minds, will be more remote and more difficult; viz., to the fact, that God has not only a character ever lastingly perfected in right, but that, by the same law, he is held to a suffering goodness for his enemies, even to that particular work in time, which we call the vicarious sacrifice of Christ.

    The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation.

  • Sure, writing can be an exercise in vicarious living -- and genre fiction more than most.

    Desperately Seeking | The Stiletto Gang

  • He replied that the word vicarious was not used in the Scriptures, and queried what I understood by it.

    Memoirs of Samuel M. Janney,

  • I told him that I understood its sense as used in relation to the atonement to mean that Jesus Christ suffered as a substitute for us by bearing the punishment due to sin, which I thought was not stated in the Scriptures, neither the word vicarious nor the idea conveyed by its being found there.

    Memoirs of Samuel M. Janney,

  • What we call the vicarious sacrifice of Christ is nothing strange as regards the Nothing superlative in the principle of the cross. principle of it, no superlative, unexampled, and therefore unintelligible grace.

    The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation.

  • IT is a matter of sorrowful indication, that the thing most wanting to be cleared in Christianity is still, as it ever has been, the principal thing; viz., the meaning and method of reconciliation itself, or of what is commonly called the vicarious sacrifice.

    The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation.

  • Now the word vicarious is chosen to represent, and gather up into itself all these varieties of expression.

    The Vicarious Sacrifice, Grounded in Principles of Universal Obligation.

  • Next in potency are what Bandura calls vicarious experiences, in which the individual sees others coping successfully with similar problems.

    Planned Short-Term Treatment

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Comments

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  • "Women all over the world have adopted, often in addition to their traditional accoutrements, four Western conventions: high-heeled shoes, lipstick, nail varnish and the brassiere. The success of all these fashions, which are not even remotely connected with comfort or common sense, is an indication of the worldwide acceptance of the Western notion that the principal duties of women are sexual attraction and vicarious leisure."
    - 'One man's mutilation is another man's beautification', Germaine Greer in The Madwoman's Underclothes.

    September 1, 2008