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

For many, the process took years, which meant that the rental housing assistance often dried up, and creating a vicious cycle. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Six years after Sandy, Jersey Shore recovery shows shortfalls in the system," 18 June 2019 This could potentially create a vicious cycle and lead to unintended outcomes that perpetuate historical exclusion and discrimination. Sharon Wekwete, Quartz Africa, "As the continent digitizes rapidly, Africans need a bill of data rights to protect them online," 12 June 2019 Gomez told Fox News that the Trinitarios have been just as vicious as MS-13 without drawing the same amount of attention. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "The gang just as vicious as MS-13 but without the notoriety: Savage Trinitarios return to the spotlight after years in the shadows," 28 July 2018 Even if there’s a prenup, litigation surrounding a prenup can be just as costly, just as protractive and just as vicious as a divorce litigation without one. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan's Divorce Could Get Very Complicated: 'There Is So Much at Stake'," 4 Apr. 2018 Storm preparations are involved and arduous even for weather not nearly as vicious as this, not to mention that the constant churn can put sailors on edge at degrees far below 40. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Watch a Container Ship Roll to a Stomach-Churning 40 Degrees," 23 Aug. 2017 The clashes with the B.J.P. protesters have become a display of how personal, vicious and violent India’s politics can get. Mujib Mashal, New York Times, "India’s ‘Street Fighter,’ Cornered by Modi, Faces Fight of Her Life," 16 June 2019 The difference is that before, the show’s quieter episodes tended to be suffused with vicious and unrelenting dread. Constance Grady, Vox, "What happened to The Handmaid’s Tale’s all-encompassing sense of dread?," 12 June 2019 Streep gives Mary Louise a vicious and eerily hilarious maternal edge. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "“Big Little Lies” Season 2, Reviewed: Meryl, Meryl, Meryl," 9 June 2019

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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Statistics for vicious

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for vicious

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

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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

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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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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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