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 (vĭ-sĭs′ĭ-to͞od′, -tyo͞od′)
a. A change or variation: an economy vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the oil market.
b. A usually unforeseen change in circumstance or experience that affects one's life, especially in a trying way: the vicissitudes of childhood. See Synonyms at difficulty.
2. The quality of being changeable; mutability: the vicissitude of fortune.

[Latin vicissitūdō, from vicissim, in turn, probably from vicēs, pl. of *vix, change; see weik- in Indo-European roots.]


1. variation or mutability in nature or life, esp successive alternation from one condition or thing to another
2. a variation in circumstance, fortune, character, etc
[C16: from Latin vicissitūdō, from vicis change, alternation]
viˌcissiˈtudinary, viˌcissiˈtudinous adj


(vɪˈsɪs ɪˌtud, -ˌtyud)

1. regular change or succession of one state or thing to another.
2. change or variation; mutation; mutability.
3. vicissitudes, successive or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs.
[1560–70; < Latin vicissitūdō=viciss(im) in turn + cessim giving way, adv. derivative of cēdere to go, proceed]
vi•cis`si•tu′di•nar`y (-nˌɛr i) vi•cis`si•tu′di•nous, adj.


- A sudden or unexpected change in life.
See also related terms for sudden.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.vicissitude - 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"
variation, fluctuation - an instance of change; the rate or magnitude of change
2.vicissitude - mutability in life or nature (especially successive alternation from one condition to another)
mutability, mutableness - the quality of being capable of mutation


Something that obstructs progress and requires great effort to overcome.Often used in plural:
Idioms: a hard nut to crack, a hard row to hoe, heavy sledding.
References in classic literature ?
The vicissitude of mutations in the superior globe, are no fit matter for this present argument.
As all is activity and vicissitude to the new mind of a child, so might it be, likewise, to a mind that had undergone a kind of new creation, after its long-suspended life.
Up mounted David, and bowled away merrily towards Boston, without so much as a parting glance at that fountain of dreamlike vicissitude. He knew not that a phantom of Wealth had thrown a golden hue upon its waters--nor that one of Love had sighed softly to their murmur--nor that one of Death had threatened to crimson them with his blood--all, in the brief hour since he lay down to sleep.
Being therefore sold at auction,--alas I what a vicissitude for a chair that had figured in such high company!--our venerable friend was knocked down to a certain Captain John Hull.
"If that is called imprudence, I wonder what would be called a thoughtful provision against the vicissitudes of fortune."
And if at times these things bent the welded iron of his soul, much more did his far-away domestic memories of his young Cape wife and child, tend to bend him still more from the original ruggedness of his nature, and open him still further to those latent influences which, in some honest-hearted men, restrain the gush of dare-devil daring, so often evinced by others in the more perilous vicissitudes of the fishery.
Only the vicissitudes of life can show us its vanity and develop our innate love of death or of rebirth to a new life." These words are all the more remarkable because, in spite of his great physical sufferings, Joseph Alexeevich is never weary of life though he loves death, for which- in spite of the purity and loftiness of his inner man- he does not yet feel himself sufficiently prepared.
"While noting these things with an interest and attention which it now astonishes me to recall I felt myself thrust aside, and Judge Veigh, whom in the intensity and vicissitudes of my feelings I had altogether forgotten, pushed by me into the room.
For during the violence of the gale, he had only steered according to its vicissitudes. But as he was now bringing the ship as near her course as possible, watching the compass meanwhile, lo!
ASSUMING it therefore as an established truth that the several States, in case of disunion, or such combinations of them as might happen to be formed out of the wreck of the general Confederacy, would be subject to those vicissitudes of peace and war, of friendship and enmity, with each other, which have fallen to the lot of all neighboring nations not united under one government, let us enter into a concise detail of some of the consequences that would attend such a situation.
It seemed to him a terrible thing to have to guide so many wives at once across the vicissitudes of life, and to conduct them, as it were, in a body to the Mormon paradise with the prospect of seeing them in the company of the glorious Smith, who doubtless was the chief ornament of that delightful place, to all eternity.
His favorite, the Chevalier de Lorraine, leaning over the back of the prince's chair, was listening, with secret envy, to the Comte de Guiche, another of Philip's favorites, who was relating in choice terms the various vicissitudes of fortune of the royal adventurer Charles II.