to experience indirectly


vicariously = indirekt, stellvertretend, nachempfunden — vicarious learning = Beobachtungslernen, stellvertretendes Lernen — vicarious liability = Haftung für fremdes Verschulden — vicarious embarrassment = Fremdschämen — vicarious satisfaction = Ersatzbefriedigung



 “But behind the seemingly scandalous behavior, Elizabeth Taylor was a woman with a clear sense of morality: she habitually married her lovers. People watched and counted, with VICARIOUS pleasure, as she became ‘Elizabeth Hilton, Elizabeth Wilding, Elizabeth Todd, Elizabeth Fisher, Elizabeth Burton, Elizabeth Burton (again), Elizabeth Warner, Elizabeth Fortensky — enough marriages to certify her career as a serial wife.”

New York Times

Did you


- in a vicarious way (= experienced through the activities of other people, rather than by doing something yourself)

Cambridge Dictionary


1630s, vicarious: from the Latin “vicarius”, meaning “substitute, deputy” and from “vicis” “turn, change, exchange, substitution.” The word vicar has the same root and stems from the notion of an earthly representative of God or Christ.

Earl Woods, the father of professional golfer Tiger Woods, once said his son was “The Chosen One” and compared him at various times with Mahatma Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, and Nelson Mandela. Although he claims he was misquoted, he was roundly criticised as an extreme example of the vicarious parent.

The so-called “Tiger Mother” is another example of what some people view as someone living vicariously through their children. The Tiger Mother is an ambitious, very strict mother who pushes her children to high performance.

There is probably some truth to the fact that most parents live vicariously through their children to some extent.

Films are another way that we lead vicarious lives in the modern age. After all, is there a better way to experience adventure, thrills and romance without the associated risks?

Sometimes referred to as vicarious identification, psychologists also use this phenomenon to explain why many people are emotionally attached to sports teams.


by proxy, deputized, empathetic, surrogate, substitute, sympathetic, VICARIOUS.

Practice OWAD in an English conversation, say something like:

“A good manager takes VICARIOUS pleasure in seeing his team achieve success.”

Thanks to Florian for suggesting today’s OWAD, and

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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