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 But for reasons not yet fully understood, some people enter a vicious cycle. Fox News, "After recovering from COVID-19, are you immune?," 14 May 2020 Reform advocates told The Times that locking women like Davis up is part of a vicious cycle that tends to target the disadvantaged. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Pregnant Woman Jailed, Put At Risk For Coronavirus Over Parking Violations," 14 May 2020 That makes Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole's reflection on the vicious cycle of gang culture and its toll on families an earnest but unrewarding disappointment. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'All Day and a Night': Film Review," 30 Apr. 2020 The inspector general’s report warned that hospitals’ problems are feeding off each other in a vicious cycle. Time, "A Federal Report Found Coronavirus Test Shortages at U.S. Hospitals. Trump Attacked the Author," 7 Apr. 2020 Epidemiologists have said the key in defeating COVID-19 pandemic is in identifying hotspots of infection and severing the vicious cycle of infection. Michael Ahn, The Conversation, "How South Korea flattened the coronavirus curve with technology," 21 Apr. 2020 Social media’s need for people to constantly react to every headline feeds a vicious cycle. Harry Guinness, Popular Science, "How to read the news without doom scrolling through social media," 20 Apr. 2020 Yet social comparisons can backfire: children can learn to always compare themselves with those around them and become trapped in a vicious cycle of competition. Eddie Brummelman, Scientific American, "The Problem with Telling Children They’re Better Than Others," 7 Apr. 2020 If the trap is abandoned, the decomposing animal will attract other animals, including other terrapins, creating a vicious cycle of mortality. National Geographic, "Diamondback terrapin," 26 Mar. 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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vicious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vicious. Accessed 4 Jun. 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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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

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