vicious

adjective
vi·​cious | \ ˈvi-shəs How to pronounce vicious (audio) \

Definition of vicious

1a : dangerously aggressive : savage a vicious dog
b : marked by violence or ferocity : fierce a vicious fight
2 : malicious, spiteful vicious gossip
3 : worsened by internal causes that reciprocally augment each other a vicious wage-price spiral
4 : having the nature or quality of vice or immorality : depraved

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Other Words from vicious

viciously adverb
viciousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for vicious

vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct. vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence. a vicious gangster villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic. a villainous assault iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness. an iniquitous system of taxation nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct. the nefarious rackets of organized crime corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations. city hall was rife with corrupt politicians degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition. a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers

Examples of vicious in a Sentence

Challenging areas of social consensus, however dumb or even vicious the consensus, is largely off limits for the media, because it wins no friends among the general public. — Richard A. Posner, New York Times Book Review, 31 July 2005 The genetically vicious nature of presidential campaigns in America is too obvious to argue with, but some people call it fun, and I am one of them. — Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2004 True to Finals form, this hardwood battle has become as vicious as any street scrum. — Anne Marie Cruz, ESPN, 24 June 2002 For most of my life I have retained a haunting image from an old Tarzan movie: piranhas, those vicious little fish with the arrowhead-shaped teeth, devouring a pig. Forget that there are no piranha in Africa. But they do exist in Brazil, in abundance in the meandering waterways of the Amazon Basin. — Gerald Eskenazi, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2002 The Olympics always seemed too much like war, vicious old men manipulating youngsters hungry for fame into performing heroic acts for short change. — Robert Lipsyte, New York Times, 29 July 2001 His slider—a vicious, hard-breaking pitch with which he finished off right-handed hitters for years—was inconsistent and benign, and the velocity of his fastball was diminished. — Buster Olney, New York Times Magazine, 4 Mar. 2001 a vicious tone of voice I know you're upset with her, but there's no need to be vicious.
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Recent Examples on the Web Experts say not going back to these families perpetuates a vicious cycle for generations to come. USA Today, "Foster kids lived with molesters. No one told their parents.," 16 Oct. 2020 That can set off a vicious cycle in which asset prices decline and companies become unable to cover their short-term obligations. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "Fed’s Quarles Disappointed by Short-Term Lending Strains in March," 15 Oct. 2020 That could create a vicious cycle: As the dollar keeps falling, Americans buy fewer and fewer foreign goods. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "The biggest economic threat facing the next administration: A weak dollar," 11 Oct. 2020 Over the course of three months, this is how the vicious cycle would repeat. Natalie Johnson, NBC News, "This is what it's like coping with an eating disorder during COVID-19," 9 Oct. 2020 In a new story in Science, journalist Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar discusses the history of disease stigma—from leprosy, to plague, to HIV/AIDS—and how its vitriol and isolation can create a vicious cycle of disease. Joel Goldberg, Science | AAAS, "How stigmatizing disease—from COVID-19 to HIV—creates a vicious cycle of sickness," 29 Sep. 2020 The study found that eligible Latino voters are in a vicious cycle: Sporadic outreach by campaigns leads many Latinos to feel disenfranchised. Dallas News, "Study says many Latinos don’t vote because they aren’t sought, and they aren’t sought because they don’t vote," 23 Sep. 2020 Furthermore, service became more unreliable, which caused a vicious cycle of declining ridership, greater operating losses, and more mechanical failures. Eric Goldwyn, The New York Review of Books, "Costly Lessons from the Second Avenue Subway," 22 Sep. 2020 Trump unplugged will inevitably lead to a new round of vicious attacks on people of color and women more outspoken than Karen Pence. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Republicans Still Don’t Know How to Run Against Biden," 28 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vicious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of vicious

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for vicious

Middle English, from Anglo-French vicios, from Latin vitiosus full of faults, corrupt, from vitium vice

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Time Traveler for vicious

Time Traveler

The first known use of vicious was in the 14th century

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Statistics for vicious

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vicious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vicious. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for vicious

vicious

adjective
How to pronounce vicious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of vicious

: very violent and cruel
: very dangerous
: having or showing very angry or cruel feelings

vicious

adjective
vi·​cious | \ ˈvi-shəs How to pronounce vicious (audio) \

Kids Definition of vicious

1 : very dangerous a vicious dog
2 : filled with or showing unkind feelings vicious gossip
3 : violent and cruel a vicious attack
4 : very severe a vicious storm

Other Words from vicious

viciously adverb
viciousness noun

vicious

adjective
vi·​cious | \ ˈvish-əs How to pronounce vicious (audio) \

Medical Definition of vicious

1 : dangerously aggresive a vicious dog
2 : of, relating to, or being perverse or abnormal behavior in a domestic animal

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