A Word A Day : Vicissitude

Sunday, 18th May 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : vi-síssi-tood


1. unexpected changes, especially in somebody's fortunes

2. one of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities or surroundings

3. regular change or succession of one state or thing to another

4. something that obstructs progress and requires great effort to overcome


This word was used in the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee finals.


Mid-16th century - Directly or via French - Latin vicissitudo - vicissim - by turns


asperity, difficulty, hardship, rigor


stability, stagnation

Contextual Examples:

• We can count on the vicissitude of the seasons throughout the year.

• The vicissitude of mutations in the superior globe, are no fit matter for this present argument.

• Up mounted David, and bowled away merrily towards Boston, without so much as a parting glance at that fountain of dreamlike vicissitude.

• They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.

• The project was subject to the usual vicissitudes of exploratory research.

• Nothing contributes to the entertainment of the reader more, than the change of times and the vicissitudes of fortune.

• This man had, after many vicissitudes of fortune, sunk at last into abject and hopeless poverty.

Related Words:

vicissitudinary : Adjective

vicissitudinous : Adjective

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