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 That extra heat melts more ice, which exposes more dark ocean, which absorbs more sunshine, creating a vicious cycle that causes further warming and melting. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "In a Historic Wildfire Season, It’s Time to Follow the Lead of Young Campaigners," 16 Sep. 2020 Shawn can’t stop the vicious cycle of addiction and detoxification. Nina Zafar, Washington Post, "What to watch on Tuesday: ‘Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice’ on Netflix," 14 Sep. 2020 In the trailer, Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies, The Society) stars as 17-year-old Millie, who is just about to be murdered by a vicious serial killer, The Butcher, played by none other than Vince Vaughn. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "Freaky, a New Horror Movie, Is Basically Freaky Friday With Serial Killers—Watch the Trailer," 10 Sep. 2020 For instance, last September, when the progressive Working Families Party (WFP) gave its endorsement to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders targeted WFP leaders for vicious abuse online. Adam Kirsch, WSJ, "Land of Free (and Fettered) Speech," 4 Sep. 2020 And yet the Mall in Washington is commonly regarded as America’s noblest civic space, while the plaza in Albany is seen as a monstrous failure, vicious in its inhospitality. Michael J. Lewis, National Review, "The Death of Public Beauty," 3 Sep. 2020 This approach could provide Trump with a short-term political payoff in a vicious re-election fight, but could also have dire scientific consequences, Stephen Collinson writes. Tara John, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Wednesday, September 2," 2 Sep. 2020 Monroe described a vicious fight while other officers looked on. Redditt Hudson, The New Republic, "The Hell of Being a Black Cop," 31 Aug. 2020 On Thursday, attention was further diverted by the impending landfall of Hurricane Laura, a vicious Category 4 storm threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast. Justin Sink, Bloomberg.com, "Trump Joins Virus Defense With Economic Appeal in Election Pitch," 27 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

26 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vicious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vicious. Accessed 27 Sep. 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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