Trouble with “Vigorously” and “Vicariously”

By Maeve Maddox

So far I haven’t found it in an article by a professional journalist (thank goodness), but in the course of my web browsing I have discovered the created word “vigariously.” It is enjoying wide use among bloggers and readers who post comments.

“Vigariously” occurs in contexts that call for either vigorously or vicariously.

vigorously – with intense energy and force
vicariously – at second hand; in place of

A word “vagariously” exists in the dictionary:

vagariously – marked by vagaries

However, I don’t think that anyone can be confusing this rarely used word with vigorously or vicariously.

I understand how “vigariously” could be a misspelling of vicariously, but its substitution for vigorously puzzles me.

Here are a few of the many examples of “vigariously” I have come across.

I watched the whole Rehab marathon on The Reality Network to live vigariously through the people on TV.

[I plan] to work up to only taking practice tests vigariously about a month to two months before the September test. (student preparing for LSAT)

I have tried vigariously plunging (hand plunger) many times with no results.

With these shows, the viewers are able to forget their problems and live vigariously thru those on the shows!

I blamed you for sending mixed messages about wanting him in and then arguing so vigariously that he shouldn’t be in!

I’m a Daddy, and I’ve been very careful about not living vigariously through my children.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


4 Responses to “Trouble with “Vigorously” and “Vicariously””

  • Brad K.

    My first thought was someone crossed Viagra with vicariously to imply an especially vigorous relationship. But why look for evil, when laziness will explain the problem?

    Thanks for recapping vigorously and vicariously, and introducing me to vagariously, I hadn’t encountered that before.

  • wyn

    I haven’t noticed this misuse yet on the Internet and would be annoyed when I do. It makes me wonder if it’s rooted in people not knowing how to pronounce the word that they are making this typo.

  • Cat

    How vulgarious!

  • Joe Zyzyx

    Why are so many using the word “very” in front of “vigorously”? Is that allowed grammatically or is it just widespread bad usage of the language?

Leave a comment: