vicious

adjective
vi·​cious | \ ˈvi-shəs \

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
5 : defective, faulty also : invalid

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

After a vicious fight, Jamie (of course) slays him and brings his body to the Indians. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 4," 26 Nov. 2018 The contrast of the vicious confrontation with the patriotic tune emphasizes a theme of the coming season: perhaps the American dream isn't beautiful for everyone, after all. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander Actor Ed Speleers Breaks Down Tonight's Shocking Final Scene," 4 Nov. 2018 In a truly vicious cycle, the fact that women and girls are more likely to develop anxiety and depression as a result of their ADHD also contributes to our widespread underdiagnosis. Kayleigh Roberts, Allure, "Why Women With ADHD Like Me Get Diagnosed So Late in Adulthood," 25 Oct. 2018 Over the weekend, Khloé Kardashian faced a particularly vicious bout of cyberbullying that might be among the most inappropriate yet, since commenters began leaving racist and colorist comments about her five-month-old daughter, True Thompson. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Khloé Kardashian's Daughter, True Thompson, Is Being Targeted by Racist and Colorist Trolls," 17 Sep. 2018 To fight the vicious bone disease and honor her mother and grandmother (who also died of osteoporosis), Camilla now spends much of her time leading the National Osteoporosis Society as president. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Camilla Parker Bowles's Parents Didn't Like the Idea of Their Daughter Marrying Prince Charles," 19 July 2018 The mob killing of LGBTQ teen Dwayne Jones in 2013 was particularly vicious; last year, the designer and stylist Dexter Pottinger, a former face of Jamaican Pride, was murdered in his home. Owen Myers, GQ, "How to Celebrate Pride When Being Gay Is Illegal," 22 June 2018 But cholera is vicious and really punishes complacency. Richard Conniff, Scientific American, "New Probiotic Cholera Vaccine Can Outrace the Infection’s Rapid Spread," 13 June 2018 Indeed, the North Dakota race could be especially vicious and hateful because of the very low cost of media air-time there. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "North Dakota’s GOP Senate Candidate Complains That Trump Is Being Too Nice to a Democrat," 12 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vicious

Statistics for vicious

Last Updated

24 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vicious

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vicious

vicious

adjective

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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of vicious

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vicious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vicious

Spanish Central: Translation of vicious

Nglish: Translation of vicious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vicious for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vicious

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to express emotion in a dramatic way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!