viler ˈvī-lər How to pronounce vile (audio) ; vilest ˈvī-ləst How to pronounce vile (audio)
: morally despicable or abhorrent
nothing is so vile as intellectual dishonesty
: physically repulsive : foul
a vile slum
: of little worth or account : common
also : mean
: tending to degrade
vile employments
: disgustingly or utterly bad : obnoxious, contemptible
vile weather
had a vile temper
vilely adverb
vileness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for vile

base, low, vile mean deserving of contempt because of the absence of higher values.

base stresses the ignoble and may suggest cruelty, treachery, greed, or grossness.

base motives

low may connote crafty cunning, vulgarity, or immorality and regularly implies an outraging of one's sense of decency or propriety.

refused to listen to such low talk

vile, the strongest of these words, tends to suggest disgusting depravity or filth.

a vile remark

Examples of vile in a Sentence

a vile and cowardly act What is that vile odor? His comments were positively vile. She has a vile temper.
Recent Examples on the Web The movie, based on a real story, takes place in the 1920s in Littlehampton, a seaside town in England, where people have been receiving anonymous, vile, insulting letters. Maëlle Beauget-Uhl, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 While giving the prayer, Francis condemned an attack at a concert hall near Moscow resulting in the deaths of more than 130 people, calling the massacre a vile and inhuman act that offends God. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 25 Mar. 2024 These acts were vile, but no one tried to silence or prosecute Duke. Eyal Press, The New Yorker, 13 Mar. 2024 Castro and Vadell’s lackadaisical tone drains the vile remarks of any solid meaning, trying to earn laughs instead. Valerie Trapp, The Atlantic, 9 Mar. 2024 Here is one solution to put such vile remarks in their place: Immediately upon hearing any hate speech in the council chamber, the council members quietly walk out, returning only when the speaker is done. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, 1 Mar. 2024 The University of Miami is investigating allegations that one of its fraternities engaged in vile hazing activities, reports say. Devoun Cetoute, Miami Herald, 1 Mar. 2024 Antisemitism is a somewhat mysterious, as well as a vile, thing. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 26 Feb. 2024 For all of American political history, Trump comparing himself to Navalny would be the type of vile, disgraceful comment that would end a politician's career. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 22 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French vil, from Latin vilis

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vile was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near vile

Cite this Entry

“Vile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


viler ˈvī-lər How to pronounce vile (audio) ; vilest -ləst How to pronounce vile (audio)
: morally bad
vile deeds
: physically ugly
vile living quarters
: of little worth
: very or completely bad
a vile temper
vile weather
vilely adverb
vileness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on vile

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