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
5 : defective, faulty also : invalid

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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 Failure to pay those fines could even trigger an arrest warrant, further perpetuating a vicious cycle of surveillance and enforcement. Nick Sibilla, Forbes, "Lawsuit: Florida County Uses ‘Predictive Policing’ To Arrest Residents For Petty Code Violations," 26 Apr. 2021 Vyas says using race as a proxy for these disparities in clinical algorithms can also create a vicious cycle. Jacque Smith, CNN, "Black or 'Other'? Doctors may be relying on race to make decisions about your health," 25 Apr. 2021 The vicious cycle of treatment, recovery and relapse can be exhausting for those who are dealing with substance abuse. Tammy Lofink, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Ask Tammy Lofink: Resources can help to support recovery from addiction," 24 Apr. 2021 As the price of bitcoin tumbled, many of those bets were automatically liquidated, adding more downward pressure on the price and leading to a vicious cycle of further liquidations. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Behind Bitcoin’s Recent Slide: Imploding Bets and Forced Liquidations," 23 Apr. 2021 Housing advocates note that a rental history of late or missed payments can kick-start a vicious cycle that can hurt tenants’ chances of finding decent housing in the future. NBC News, "Housing advocates say evictions are continuing at 'full steam,' despite a federal ban," 3 Apr. 2021 After throwing down a vicious two-handed dunk and hanging on the rim, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson smacked his chest and unleashed a yell. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "Juan Toscano-Anderson has memorable night in Warriors' 4th straight win," 15 Apr. 2021 Gross took a vicious hit from Ryan Reaves of the Golden Knights in the first period. Jose M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, "Coyotes battle to end in tight game with Golden Knights, but lose third straight," 11 Apr. 2021 East senior Hasaan Herrington scored 15 points, the last two on a vicious dunk in the waning minutes of the game. Josh Reed, Anchorage Daily News, "Defense and Delaney do their jobs to boost T-Birds past Chugiak for CIC boys basketball crown," 21 Mar. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vicious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vicious. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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 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

Comments on vicious

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