AskDefine | Define vicissitude

Dictionary Definition



1 a variation in circumstances or fortune at different times in your life or in the development of something; "the project was subject to the usual vicissitudes of exploratory research"
2 mutability in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one condition to another)

User Contributed Dictionary



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


  • a US /vɪˈsɪsɪˌtud/, /vI"sIsI%tud/
    Rhymes: -ɪsɪtuːd
  • Hyphenation: vi·cis·si·tude


  1. Regular change or succession from one thing to another, or one part of a cycle to the next; alternation; mutual succession; interchange.
  2. (often plural) a change, especially in one's life or fortunes.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, vii, 351,
      And God made.. the Stars, and set them in the firmament of Heaven to illuminate the Earth, and rule the day in their vicissitude...
    • 2003, "US redeployments afoot in Asia", Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 18, Pg. 6.,
      The vicissitudes of war in Iraq cast a dreary backdrop for Donald Rumsfeld's first visit to Asian military allies since he became US Defense Secretary in 2001.


regular change or succession from one thing to another
  • Finnish: vaihtelu
  • Russian: смена, чередование
a change, especially in one's life or fortunes
  • Finnish: käänne
  • Russian: превратность, непостоянство

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adverse circumstances, adversity, affliction, aggravation, alteration, alternation, annoyance, asperity, blight, bummer, care, chain of circumstances, chain reaction, change, changeability, changes, chapter of accidents, chop and change, concatenation of events, contrasts, cross, curse, difficulties, difficulty, diversity, downer, feast and famine, fluctuation, flukiness, flux, hard knocks, hard life, hard lot, hardcase, hardness, hardship, inconstancy, innovation, ins and outs, irritation, mischance, misfortune, mutability, mutation, novelty, oscillation, pendulation, permutation, plight, predicament, pressure, progression, reversal, rigor, sea of troubles, seesawing, shifting, shuffling, sport, stress, stress of life, teeter-tottering, teetering, tottering, transposition, trial, tribulation, trouble, troubles, unpredictability, ups and downs, vacillation, vale of tears, variability, variation, variations, variety, vicious circle, vicissitudes, vicissitudes of fortune, wavering
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