The Meaning of Vicariously: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of vicariously? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word vicariously, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word vicariously mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary fifth edition and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged 7th edition, the word vicariously is an adverb that means experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation or empathy, empathic engagement in place of another person, feeling the experience of others, or imaginary participation in the live of another person. This is the adverb form of the word vicarious. In physiology, this word refers to a situation in which one organ performs part of the functions normally performed by another abnormal part of the body, like vicarious menstruation or menstrual bleeding. This is a popular eighth grade vocabulary word that you might see on an eighth grade vocab quiz – with this word you can build your vocabulary skills. The word vicariously is five syllables – vi-car-i-ous-ly, and the pronunciation of vicariously is vɪkeəriəsle.

The word vicarious is also a song by Cadence Weapon from the album Breaking Kayfabe, an album by New Zealand band Strawpeople, and a single by the progressive metal band Tool. Many things can be vicarious, like vicarious liability, vicarious movies, a vicarious government, vicarious atonement, vicarious punishment, vicarious emotion, vicarious excitement, vicarious traumatization, vicarious problem-solving, and more. 

There are many other languages that contain words that mean vicariously. You may notice that many of these words look similar to each other. This is likely because they have a common root or origin. Often, cognates – which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things across languages – are formed when words share a common ancestor, usually in Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word vicariously is provided by Word Sense and could also be found in a Spanish Dictionary unabridged 8th edition or German Dictionary fifth edition.

  •  Italian: indiretto‎
  •  Latin: obliquus‎
  •  German: indirekt‎
  •  Finnish: epäsuora‎, välillinen‎
  •  Portuguese: indireto‎
  •  Czech: nepřímý‎
  •  Esperanto: nerekta‎
  •  Greek: έμμεσος‎ (masc.)
  •  Catalan: indirecte‎
  •  French: indirect‎
  •  Polish: pośredni‎
  •  Russian: ко́свенный‎, непрямо́й‎
  •  Spanish: indirecto‎
  •  Maori: porowhawhe‎
  •  Dutch: onrechtstreeks‎; indirect‎

What is the origin of the word vicariously?

According to Etymonline, the word vicariously is a c17 word that comes from the Latin vicārius/Latin vicarius and vic-is, from the roots ārius and ary. This is also the pathology of the word vicar.

What are synonyms and antonyms of vicariously?

There is a vast collection of many different words that can be used in place of the word vicariously, which are known as synonyms. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word vicariously is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  oblique
  •  substitutive
  •  sympathetic
  •  vicarial
  •  minor
  •  vicariate
  •  resulting
  •  agent
  •  empathetic
  •  substitute
  •  phony
  •  having a heart
  •  compatible
  •  second hand
  •  counterfeit
  •  second-hand
  •  mock
  •  all heart
  •  petty
  •  inferior
  •  spare
  •  derivative
  •  designee
  •  on same wavelength
  •  commissioned
  •  reserve
  •  fake
  •  alternative
  •  sympathising
  •  ersatz
  •  juicy
  •  down
  •  substitutional
  •  empathic
  •  stopgap
  •  lower
  •  consistent
  •  approving
  •  surrogate
  •  companionable
  •  bush-league
  •  delegated
  •  graphic
  •  provisional
  •  representative
  •  makeshift
  •  deputized
  •  secondary
  •  substituted
  •  pretended
  •  proxies
  •  consonant
  •  exchangeable
  •  secondhand
  •  bleeding-heart
  •  indirect
  •  consequent
  •  parsonage
  •  dinky
  •  deputy
  •  appreciative
  •  dependent
  •  like-minded
  •  fungible
  •  procurator
  •  imagined
  •  assignee
  •  proxy
  •  abnormal
  •  acting
  •  deputised
  •  open-minded
  •  deputed
  •  delegate
  •  second
  •  by proxy
  •  backup
  •  in sympathy with
  •  manse
  •  appointed
  •  imitation
  •  assigned
  •  replacement
  •  pinch
  •  authorized
  •  favorably disposed
  •  congruous
  •  open
  •  derived
  •  eventual
  •  alternate
  •  vicariously
  •  ancillary
  •  pseudo
  •  explicit
  •  responsive
  •  simpatico
  •  receptive
  •  cool
  •  dummy

There are also numerous different words that are the opposite of the word vicariously, which are called antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know if you are trying to expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word vicariously is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  eyewitness
  •  in-depth
  •  eye-witness
  •  hands-on
  •  ingrained
  •  primary
  •  detailed
  •  evidence-based
  •  first-hand
  •  thorough
  •  direct
  •  new
  •  innate
  •  directly
  •  empirical
  •  intrinsic
  •  close
  •  innermost
  •  inmost
  •  at first hand
  •  inbred
  •  penetrating
  •  at first-hand
  •  original
  •  deep
  •  deep-seated
  •  privy
  •  intimate
  •  internal
  •  first hand
  •  immediate
  •  exhaustive
  •  profound
  •  firsthand
  •  personal
  •  experiential
  •  closely
  •  special
  •  secret
  •  straight
  •  interior
  •  fresh
  •  inborn
  •  indwelling
  •  essential
  •  trusted
  •  head-on
  •  inherent
  •  experienced
  •  guarded
  •  gut

How can the word vicariously be used in a sentence?

There are many ways that the word vicariously (adv.) can be used in a sentence in the English language. Using new words in a sentence is a great way to incorporate new lingo into your vocabulary. You can also try making flashcards and quizzes that test your knowledge of the definitions of different English words. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of different examples of ways in which the word vicariously can be used in the English language to help get your started with using this word. 

Jessica and Tina gained their own vicarious pleasure through photos of their friend’s trip and friend’s adventure to Hawaii. They lived out their fantasy lives from the comfort of their bedroom. 

She had a vicarious transformation through watching her helper gain strength physically through mountain climbing.

The self of a trauma worker felt vicarious trauma through the reports of traumatic experiences. The double execution by the feudal superior filled his fountain of principle with wrath.

Her rational approach to economic theory was through vicarious means. The learner in her class at Princeton University would life life as though their money was at stake in the stock market and learn to make decisions. 

Overall, the word vicariously means living through the life of another person. Through systematic vocabulary improvement you can learn this word of Latin influence.


  1. Vicarious definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. Vicarious synonyms – 287 Words and Phrases for Vicarious | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Vicarious antonyms – 17 Opposites of Vicarious | Power Thesaurus 
  4. vicarious: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense