Definition of vicarious in English:



  • 1Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person.

    ‘this catalogue brings vicarious pleasure in luxury living’
    • ‘Today, the topics of interaction tend to be vicarious experiences manufactured by and mediated through one of the major channels of pop culture, be it television, radio or print.’
    • ‘By identifying with the characters in the book, children enjoy vicarious experiences without having to run any risk.’
    • ‘As well, tens of thousands of Australians personally involved with this national tragedy are experiencing vicarious trauma, and are bewildered by the continuing inhumane actions of our government.’
    • ‘If there's an experience you really want to have, then all you have to do convince the world they should support you in this expedition, and that your report will give them a vicarious experience worth having paid for.’
    • ‘And in the process, children become drawn increasingly into the lures of play, of vicarious and sensational experiences far more preferable than work.’
    • ‘As interested onlookers who take no vicarious pleasure at all from this kind of thing, we will naturally be the first to bring you the scores the moment they are announced.’
    • ‘Empathy and familiarity with someone gives rise to a vicarious capacity to experience his responses, a kind of second nature.’
    • ‘Not much fun for him but a blast of nostalgia for people who used to live there and take a vicarious pleasure in virtual revisiting at a distance.’
    • ‘I didn't have any fellow Sox fans with me to enjoy the game with, after all, and I'm certainly highly-evolved enough to value real experiences with friends over vicarious ones with strangers.’
    • ‘A book like it provides a vicarious emotional experience that can be tremendously valuable in helping teens navigate the transition to psychologically mature, healthy, integrated adults.’
    • ‘You have a wide circle of devoted buddies and admirers, and you take vicarious pleasure in their successes and accomplishments while inspiring your friends with your own passion for life.’
    • ‘The uninhibited pleasure the various characters take in eating only adds to the reader's vicarious pleasure.’
    • ‘But you can give your mates a good time they could not possibly have had before, and that gives you vicarious pleasure.’
    • ‘And, as is usual with such productions, all the screen tests were telecast as reality television much to the vicarious pleasure of 24 million households across the country.’
    • ‘Situated somewhere between written and spoken language, interviews combine the vicarious pleasures of eavesdropping with the virtuous pursuit of edification.’
    • ‘The chief pleasure of any competently made romantic comedy is the vicarious thrill of experiencing the mutual, inevitable attraction between the leads.’
    • ‘Yet, curiously, it is a secondary, indirect, and vicarious experience.’
    • ‘To begin with, we receive vicarious pleasure in observing the celebrity fulfil our wishes to act in relative freedom of neurotic and societal restraints.’
    • ‘Not to be outdone, television channels too have lined up romantic films for couch potato couples or for the majority who watch these movies to get a vicarious experience of falling in love.’
    • ‘His wife realises they're onto a money spinner and people are soon queuing to experience vicarious fame.’
    indirect, second-hand, secondary, derivative, derived, at one remove, surrogate, substitute, substituted, by proxy
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  • 2Acting or done for another.

    ‘a vicarious atonement’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Social feedback improved writing skills for both modeling and verbal description groups, but it was insufficient for students in the latter group to make up for the absence of vicarious experience.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Just as childhood pets teach us empathy for another's suffering, vicarious experience lets us in on one of the best-kept secrets of human existence: we are all cut from the same cloth.’
    • ‘Still, even if expressed by a metaphor some might find ostentatious, vicarious atonement as a concept was nothing outlandish in first-century Jerusalem.’
    • ‘It is striking that the basic teachings of the Church such as Trinity and vicarious atonement find no mention in the Bible.’
    • ‘We found that treatment based on performance mastery produces higher, more generalized, and stronger efficacy expectations than treatment based on vicarious experience alone.’
    • ‘A major problem with Wright is that, if he does hold to Christ's vicarious atonement, he believes Christ died for and will save all men.’
    • ‘Jews, I had read and heard (including from many Jews), simply do not believe in vicarious atonement, whereas Christians obviously do.’


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