vin·​dic·​tive | \vin-ˈdik-tiv \

Definition of vindictive 

1a : disposed to seek revenge : vengeful

b : intended for or involving revenge

2 : intended to cause anguish or hurt : spiteful

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Other Words from vindictive

vindictively adverb
vindictiveness noun

Synonyms for vindictive


revengeful, vengeful

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Examples of vindictive in a Sentence

Well, maybe actually waging vendettas is a bad idea, but to be known for your vindictiveness can be a great advantage, for then people will take care not to cross you. And maybe the surest way of acquiring a reputation for vindictiveness is actually to be vindictive. — David Papineau, New York Times Book Review, 11 May 1997 And though his [John Simon's] caustic wit can sometimes sound more personally vindictive than objectively critical, it allows him to plow through a lot of literary pretentiousness. — Andrea Barnet, New York Times Book Review, 19 Mar. 1989 The bear, seen in many aspects as humanlike, was subject to ambivalent attitudes: mainly, he was seen as a stand-in for benevolent supernaturals, but sometimes also as a dangerous and at times a vindictive and harmful one. — William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell, Crossroads of Continents, 1988 A machine gun lashed at him from across the river.  … In the darkness, it spat a vindictive white light like an acetylene torch, and its sound was terrifying. — Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead, 1948 In observing so long a silence I have been influenced much more by a vindictive purpose,—a purpose to punish you for your suspicion that I could possibly feel myself hurt or offended by any critical suggestion of yours … — William Cowper 26 Feb. 1791, in William Cowper's Letters, Edward Verrall Lucas, editor1924 It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive. — W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919 be careful not to annoy the vindictive old woman who lives down the street
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Recent Examples on the Web

The Cosby Show’; rescissions of honorary degrees and a vindictive attempt to close an exhibition of our collection of African American art in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Travis Andersen,, "Camille Cosby blasts husband’s conviction, says he’s a victim of ‘mob justice’," 3 May 2018 Trump’s transparently vindictive assault on Bezos’ interests is reminiscent of the way President Richard Nixon tried to pinch owners of news organizations. John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle, "Last Word: Trump’s vindictive move against Amazon," 18 May 2018 Crass, crude vindictive remarks against Ivanka Trump, now. Fox News, "Turley: Trump did not obstruct justice by firing James Comey," 1 June 2018 Even the slightest misstep can provoke China’s vindictive pique. New York Times, "China Tries to Erase Taiwan, One Ally (and Website) at a Time," 25 May 2018 Trump’s vindictive move against Amazon From early in his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has not concealed his contempt for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man who also owns the Washington Post. John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle, "Last Word: Trump’s vindictive move against Amazon," 18 May 2018 Her reviews were never vindictive, though written with a critical eye. Polly Campbell,, "Jackie Demaline, former Enquirer theater critic, dead at age 68," 18 June 2018 Sleeping with your source- especially a vindictive congressman? Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "What to Know About Ali Watkins, James Wolfe, and the FBI," 13 June 2018 Russian nationalists, however, have trumpeted an alternative set of events: that Ivan IV was not a vindictive and bloodthirsty tyrant, but rather the target of a smear campaign by Western leaders who opposed him. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Man Attacks Ivan the Terrible Painting, Blames Vodka," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vindictive.' 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 vindictive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for vindictive

Latin vindicta revenge, vindication, from vindicare

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

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The first known use of vindictive was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of vindictive

: having or showing a desire to hurt someone who has hurt or caused problems for you


vin·​dic·​tive | \vin-ˈdik-tiv \

Kids Definition of vindictive

1 : likely to seek revenge a vindictive person

2 : meant to be harmful vindictive remarks

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Comments on vindictive

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