Is there a word for positively learning from the mistakes of others?

Vicarious meaning:

experienced or felt by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else rather than by doing something yourself MW

is the closest thing I know, but I am looking for a word that is distinctly positive.

Similar question but not an exact match: One word for “someone who learns from others' mistakes"

closed as off-topic by Drew, user140086, Nathaniel, Brian Hooper, JEL Jan 12 '16 at 6:56

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  • "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests" – Drew, Community, Nathaniel, Brian Hooper
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  • Greg, the "close vote" is coming from someone who has pointed out that "questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered." You may consider editing your question to improve the changes that it will not be closed. The help center at english.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic can help explain this requirement and also give suggestions on how to improve your question. – Kristina Lopez Jan 6 '16 at 23:47
  • You might try the noun "emulation" or the verb "to emulate" to express this idea, for it involves learning with the express purpose of trying to equal or excel to match another's success. – Benjamin Harman Jan 7 '16 at 0:35
  • There is a financial investment firm in my area who's motto is along the lines of, “Intelligence’ is learning from your mistakes. Wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others.” – Jim Jan 7 '16 at 1:00

"Let their mistake act as a cautionary tale to you!"

A "cautionary tale", as defined by the Macmillan Dictionary:

a story or series of events in which something bad happens that you can use as a warning for the future


I won't say the answer to your question is NO, but I'll bet money you don't get an answer to your question. People who learn from other people's mistakes are commonly described as wise or prudent, but neither word really matches what you requested.

When you learn from mistakes, you're essentially learning from experience (even if it's someone else's experience). The term trial and error may thus be somewhat close to what you're looking for.

On second thought, I am going to answer your question NO. However, I hope someone proves me wrong, because if such a word exists, I'd like to know about it myself...

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