Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A change or variation.
  • noun A usually unforeseen change in circumstance or experience that affects one's life, especially in a trying way: synonym: difficulty.
  • noun The quality of being changeable; mutability.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Regular change or succession of one thing to another; alternation.
  • noun A passing from one state or condition to another; irregular change; revolution; mutation: as, the vicissitudes of fortune.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Regular change or succession from one thing to another; alternation; mutual succession; interchange.
  • noun Irregular change; revolution; mutation.
  • noun Changing conditions of fortune in one's life; life's ups and downs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Regular change or succession from one thing to another, or one part of a cycle to the next; alternation; mutual succession; interchange.
  • noun often plural a change, especially in one's life or fortunes.

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

  • noun mutability in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one condition to another)
  • noun a variation in circumstances or fortune at different times in your life or in the development of something

Etymologies

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

[Latin vicissitūdō, from vicissim, in turn, probably from vicēs, pl. of *vix, change; see weik- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin vicissitudo ("change"), from vicissim ("on the other hand, in turn"), from vicis ("change, vicissitude"), whence Spanish vez and French fois ("time (as in next time), occurrence").

Examples

  • The fact, of course, is that it is just the variety of experience which makes life interesting, -- toil and rest, pain and relief, hope and satisfaction, danger and security, -- and if we once remove the idea of vicissitude from life, it all becomes an indolent and uninspiring affair.

    Escape, and Other Essays

  • And here we see, by a kind of vicissitude and return, it kindles hell itself for the calumniator.

    Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions. Vol. V.

  • Surprised By Joy, composed some time after her death, is the most touching of elegies, the movement of the verse mirroring the movement of the body, heart and mind, the simplicity of diction shockingly enriched by the Latinate "vicissitude".

    The Guardian World News

  • Never, in the days of vicissitude that came later, did Taiwun doubt my claim of Korean birth.

    Chapter 15

  • All of us to a greater or lesser degree have a streak of psychopathy which makes every vicissitude of human experience – including our own – potential writing fodder.

    Eyeball to eyeball (with tooth-sucking….) « Write Anything

  • It is given that travail and vicissitude mark time to man's footsteps as he stumbles onward toward the grave; and it is well.

    The Dignity of Dollars

  • All of us to a greater or lesser degree have a streak of psychopathy which makes every vicissitude of human experience – including our own – potential writing fodder ….

    Eyeball to eyeball (with tooth-sucking….) « Write Anything

  • In a letter to his son written in 1537, he looked back on a life of vicissitude; "a thousand dangers and hazards, enmities, hatreds, prisonments, despites and indignations".

    The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt by Nicola Shulman - review

  • I followed her like a duckling, learning how to glide smoothly upon the waters of writerly vicissitude.

    Lisa Jones: Truck Stop Book Tour

  • I followed her like a duckling, learning how to glide smoothly upon the waters of writerly vicissitude.

    Lisa Jones: Truck Stop Book Tour

Comments

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  • "Vicissitudes are boxing our heads,

    Like they just want to emaciate them forever."

    -"Suffer for Fashion," Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

    November 22, 2007

  • In episode three, season three of True Blood, the character named Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi, says this word with a deep southern drawl. You can tell he really relishes the sound of the word.

    The King speaks of how much Bill loves Sookie and lets him know that if Bill doesn't turn her into a vampire, then "the alternative is to subject her to the vicissitudes of mortality and to the mercy of forces such as, for instance... me."

    July 9, 2010

  • I read this in Ironside by Holly Black, " the moment was vicissitude. "

    October 1, 2010

  • From p. 24 of Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time to Keep Silence":

    The library was beautifully kept, and, considering the Abbey's vicissitudes, enormous.

    January 21, 2014

  • Said the guru in solemn solicitude,

    "Let neither despair nor bliss intrude.

    Take calm as your norm;

    Be the eye of the storm.

    Be still and transcend all vicissitude."

    July 20, 2014

  • Said the guru in solemn solicitude,

    "What I'm smoking is something illicit, dude."

    But his habit was quite kempt

    For someone allegedly hemped...

    I think he was taking the pissitude.

    July 21, 2014

  • it doesn't scan, but best use of "dude" in a limerick I've seen in me days

    July 21, 2014