Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective vin·dic·tive \vin-ˈdik-tiv\

Simple Definition of vindictive

  • : having or showing a desire to hurt someone who has hurt or caused problems for you

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of vindictive

  1. 1 a :  disposed to seek revenge :  vengeful b :  intended for or involving revenge

  2. 2 :  intended to cause anguish or hurt :  spiteful





Examples of vindictive in a sentence

  1. Well, maybe actually waging vendettas is a bad idea, but to be known for your vindictiveness can be a great advantage, for then people will take care not to cross you. And maybe the surest way of acquiring a reputation for vindictiveness is actually to be vindictive. —David Papineau, New York Times Book Review, 11 May 1997

  2. And though his [John Simon's] caustic wit can sometimes sound more personally vindictive than objectively critical, it allows him to plow through a lot of literary pretentiousness. —Andrea Barnet, New York Times Book Review, 19 Mar. 1989

  3. The bear, seen in many aspects as humanlike, was subject to ambivalent attitudes: mainly, he was seen as a stand-in for benevolent supernaturals, but sometimes also as a dangerous and at times a vindictive and harmful one. —William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell, Crossroads of Continents, 1988

  4. A machine gun lashed at him from across the river. … In the darkness, it spat a vindictive white light like an acetylene torch, and its sound was terrifying. —Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead, 1948

  5. It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919

  6. In observing so long a silence I have been influenced much more by a vindictive purpose,—a purpose to punish you for your suspicion that I could possibly feel myself hurt or offended by any critical suggestion of yours … —William Cowper, 26 Feb. 1791, in William Cowper's Letters, Edward Verrall Lucas, editor, 1924

  7. <be careful not to annoy the vindictive old woman who lives down the street>

Origin and Etymology of vindictive

Latin vindicta revenge, vindication, from vindicare

First Known Use: 15th century

VINDICTIVE Defined for Kids


adjective vin·dic·tive \vin-ˈdik-tiv\

Definition of vindictive for Students

  1. 1 :  likely to seek revenge <a vindictive person>

  2. 2 :  meant to be harmful <vindictive remarks>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vindictive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a talk on a religious or moral theme

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of caesura?

torrent rebellion megillah interruption
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.