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

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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

Trying to ignore these feelings or castigate yourself for having them can simply make these emotions stronger, Dr. Beresin says, which can result in a vicious cycle. Mattie Quinn, SELF, "10 Tips for Dealing With Family Estrangement During the Holidays," 21 Nov. 2018 That could be dangerous because higher rates can hurt Italy’s public finances, reinforcing investor concerns, in a vicious cycle. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Italy’s doesn’t budge in clash with EU over budget deficit," 13 Nov. 2018 The end result is a vicious cycle where forest fires send huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, which increases temperatures and makes those same fires more likely and more deadly. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Amazon Forest Fires Release Way More Carbon Than We Thought," 11 Oct. 2018 One of the most vicious and twisted is the blister beetle. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "How Horror Beetles Hitchhike on Bees And Then Eat Their Young," 12 Sep. 2018 There’s nothing quiet or internal about Amma’s violence, which is openly vicious and animalistic. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Sharp Objects Finale Delivers a Shocking Twist Ending," 27 Aug. 2018 The show quickly figured out the difference between vicious and vital satire, with especially good sendups of Cabinet members (many of whom are still serving!), the Fox News echo chamber and the MSNBC mortification machine. Author: Hank Stuever, Anchorage Daily News, "Summer is the right time for those TV shows you’ve heard about, but never got around to watching," 14 June 2018 Don’t let the little red pigtails fool you, Wendy’s was among the most vicious after Monday’s less-than-sizzling announcement from the breakfast chain. David Selig, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Wendy’s grills IHOb over new burger promotion — and there were plenty of other Twitter burns," 11 June 2018 One of the most vicious battles in naval history had begun. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "How SF’s namesake ship survived a World War II ‘suicide’ mission," 9 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.

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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

28 Nov 2018

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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 \

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

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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

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