as in unlawful
not conforming to a high moral standard; morally unacceptable a truly vicious person detested by almost everyone

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms


Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective vicious differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of vicious are corrupt, degenerate, iniquitous, nefarious, and villainous. While all these words 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

Where would corrupt be a reasonable alternative to vicious?

The synonyms corrupt and vicious are sometimes interchangeable, but corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations.

city hall was rife with corrupt politicians

In what contexts can degenerate take the place of vicious?

The words degenerate and vicious can be used in similar contexts, but degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition.

a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers

When could iniquitous be used to replace vicious?

While in some cases nearly identical to vicious, iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness.

an iniquitous system of taxation

When can nefarious be used instead of vicious?

In some situations, the words nefarious and vicious are roughly equivalent. However, nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct.

the nefarious rackets of organized crime

When is it sensible to use villainous instead of vicious?

Although the words villainous and vicious have much in common, villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic.

a villainous assault

Thesaurus Entries Near vicious

Cite this Entry

“Vicious.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

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