There is such a word, but it seems to not have a definition. Several examples of using this word is as follows:

There was the same lithe, wiry frame, unworn by much endurance, the sloping brow, expanding to a wedge-like shape at the temples, and the quick, keen, vivarious gray eye, as I remembered them in 1845.

— Bayard Taylor, At Home and Abroad: A Sketch Book of Life, Scenery ... (1860)


... he had expected a vivarious playmate ...

— newspaper article (1889)


Calandra sought to break down the borderline between art and life by transforming the pedestal into a vivarious battle scene which extends into our space because of its landscape character.

— Umberto Boccioni, ‎Philip Rylands (1996)


At night her carmine finger-nails dig her own vivarious history clear of all misinterpretation and point the way of others' ruin before marking me for life.

Westerly pub. University of Western Australia, 1966


Image of print book

In vivarious animals, the birth awakens all the tenderness of a parent, which lasts as long as it is needed

— Rebecca Edridge, The Scrinium (1822)

  • There is no entry in the OED for vivarious. A vivarium is a place where living animals are kept e.g. an aquarium is a form of vivarium. – WS2 Aug 18 '15 at 7:45
  • Can you give an example of using this word? Moreover, maybe this could help : kmarchipelago.wikidot.com/forge-spells:vivarious-refrain – Eilia Aug 18 '15 at 7:47
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    do you perhaps mean vivacious (attractively lively and animated) or vicarious (Experienced or felt by empathy)? – Yeshe Aug 18 '15 at 7:48
  • What's funny is that I was looking for some other word and mis-typed. While looking "vivarious" up I found quite a few references. But no definition. Hence, asking experts here. – Grammar Addict Aug 18 '15 at 7:59
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    If you search for the word in quotes in Google Books, you can find more uses that aren't typos. There is something called "vivarious flirtation" mentioned in Bulletin of University of Oklahoma in 1933. It is also mentioned in "Rendezvous: Idaho State University Journal of Arts and Letters" from 1991 that isn't a typo. – Grammar Addict Aug 18 '15 at 8:57

The first quote comes from At Home and Abroad: A Sketchbook of Life, Scenery and Men by Baynard Taylor and is vivacious:

Image of book

There was the same lithe, wiry frame, unworn by much endurance, the sloping brow, expanding to a wedge-like shape at the temples, and the quick, keen, vivacious gray eye, as I remembered them in 1845.

via Mocavo.com

I can't find all the other quotes online but where they are not found it's entirely likely that they are a misreading of vivacious too. Optical character recognition may miss the very thin tail of c, only registering the left-hand thick stroke and terminal ball or serif and mistaking it for r.

The quotes which are obviously and verifiably correctly vivarious — that is, Umberto Boccioni, Westerly and The Scrinium — all appear to mean simply living.

The word does not appear in OED, which is testament to its rarity: even OED can't list every word used in print, although I would have expected the three examples here to be enough to trigger its inclusion.

The viv- comes from Latin vīvĕre, to live; and OED does list the -arious suffix:

< Latin -ārius, -a, -um ‘connected with, pertaining to’ + -ous suffix (as if < Latin -āriōsus; cf. cariōsus, carious). The reg. English repr. of -ārius is -ary suffix1; but the compound suffix is of occasional use, as in cibarious, gregarious, temerarious, vicarious, and as a by-form in arbitrarious, contrarious, etc. (Hilarious, < Latin hilari-s + -ous, seems to owe its form to association with this suffix.)

That being the case, I don't believe the writers intended vivarious to mean "pertaining to life" as one might say that a [warm-blooded] animal has a vivarious warmth — it's warm while it's alive. I believe they have mistakenly coined the word and it would have been better to have been vivarous, where the -ous suffix derives from Latin -osus. From the OED again:

< classical Latin -ōsus (-a, -um), forming adjectives, with the sense of ‘abounding in, full of, characterized by, of the nature of’, e.g. cōpiōsus copious adj., dolōrōsus dolorous adj., fāmōsus famous adj., generōsus generous adj. and n., glōriōsus glorious adj., spīnōsus spinous adj., viscōsus viscous adj., etc.

Vivarious is comfortingly similar to vicarious, which might explain why that form was chosen. Tim Lymington has posited that Edridge may have intended viviparous in The Scrinium.

It's entirely possible that OED also believes vivarious to be a mistake, which is why it's not included even though there are probably sufficient instances to warrant it.

  • 1
    The second and probably the fourth should clearly be vicarious: the Scrinium one should, I think, be viviparous. And you have my upvote, if only for pointing out that, despite what OP believes, finding half a dozen examples in the entire published corpus of English does not in fact mean that a word exists. – TimLymington Aug 18 '15 at 9:32
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    @Tim You're probably right about Scrinium being a misprint/malapropism for what should have been viviparous. I'm not sure that vicarious fits any of the usages, though. – Andrew Leach Aug 18 '15 at 9:38

the vi- in vicarious comes from vicis which if added to various

vicis - a change, exchange, interchange; succession, alternation, substitution


various - Having or showing different properties or qualities

we could get a meaning like, "having or showing alternating/changing properties or qualities". Which if used to refer to eyes (I don't understand the example using eve, I suspect a misspelling) would make me think of heterochromia (different colored eyes).

And I think it works quite well with "her own vivarious history clear of all misinterpretation"

  • I don't think that 'words' that (2) people have to analyse and explain before readers can understand them (1) aren't even in OED 'work well' at all. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 18 '15 at 8:39
  • agreed, although I did enjoy the exorcise. – Yeshe Aug 18 '15 at 8:54
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    You mean the exercism. :) – TRomano Aug 18 '15 at 11:37

It's a typo.

Note that if you take almost any word, and form a similar typo, you will find about the same number of examples of that typo as you have found here.

I must say that, folks asking really concerned! interested! intense! questions about typos ... is a bit of a plague on this site.

IJAFT. It's Just A Typo.

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