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I know 'vice' and 'deputy' both mean "next in rank". In Merriam-Webster, we have these definitions:

vice:

one that takes the place of vice-chancellor

In comparison to:

deputy:

a person appointed as a substitute with power to act

a second in command or assistant who usually takes charge when his or her superior is absent; specifically : deputy sheriff

So the two have clearly similar meanings, suggesting a person who does not normally carry the full responsibility of a given position, but who can perform those same duties as required or directed to. Also, there are towns with Vice Mayors, and other towns with Deputy Mayors.

Can anyone tell their difference, such as usage or anything else? Are they completely interchangeable and merely a matter of of a particular organization's preferences?

  • What does a dictionary say? – Hot Licks Sep 1 '16 at 12:17
  • @sesameblack- I have attempted to rescue your question, as I find it interesting myself. It was a fairly large edit, though, so if I went too far feel free to re-edit, with my apologies. – cobaltduck Sep 1 '16 at 12:32
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    I think that the first two answers to this Quora question address this pretty well: quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-vice-and-deputy – Max Williams Sep 1 '16 at 12:54
  • @cobaltduck- Thanks for your edit. I am still an English learner and struggling with writing. I think you did a good explanation and expansion. – sesameblack Sep 1 '16 at 15:12
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Vice

Refers to the one second in command, next in authority to another person. It's used for people who are one step away to the highest authority. Their job is different from the higher person's. They're not authorized to act on behalf of the boss, unless they're told to do so.

Usually, a vice is someone, a person (maybe two persons, but not more). Not a group of people. Example:

vice president, vice admiral, vice chairman

Meanwhile:

Deputy

Refers to the one(s) appointed to act for another person (not necessarily next in command), to take their place on their behalf. What they do is subset to the higher person's authority. Usually, a person can have a number of deputies. Example:

Deputy manager, deputy sheriff.

The word deputy is also commonly used in organizations. At where I work, we have six deputies (not six vices).

  • This is a solid answer. Where I work, we have a Director and three Associate Directors, one of whom is the "Principal Deputy" in the sense of this response. We also have committees, many of which single vice-chairs. – Richard Kayser Sep 2 '16 at 5:16
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    I am not sure whether that is a solid answer. In my university, we have 'Executive Vice President for Research', 'Executive Vice President for Administrative Affairs', and 'Executive Vice President for Financial Affairs'. More than two people can have a vice position, as a counterexample. – sesameblack Sep 4 '16 at 15:41
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“Vice” refers to the one who is next in command and its usage is usually confined to a small number of people, whereas “Deputy” also refers the same but it is confined to considerably large number of people.

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