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

Example Sentences

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 Who better to capture the dismal mood in England than a group of pale, retirement-age gents who perform absolutely vile and hilarious U.K.-drill-style hip-hop? Ian Crouch, The New Yorker, 25 Nov. 2022 Oddest of all, there’s little sense of what’s at stake in any of these arcs — not even Lasher’s, though evidently his goals are vile enough that some of the Mayfairs will stoop to unthinkable acts to stop him. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Jan. 2023 Tyler Golden/Hulu Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz as figure skating commentators, who have strong thoughts on one of history's most vile leaders (and his performance on the ice). Lauren Huff,, 4 Jan. 2023 Emma Thompson is a hoot as a vile school headmistress. Dallas News, 22 Dec. 2022 Earlier this month, the site treated the vile Sandy Hook Truthers with proper WTF contempt. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 23 Jan. 2013 In Boston, the Hearst papers forced exhibitors to preface Five Star Final with a disclaimer assuring moviegoers that most newspapers would never deploy the vile tactics portrayed in the photoplay. Thomas Doherty, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Dec. 2022 When asked about the more vile ideologies that exist among his supporters, DeSantis has bent over backwards to avoid denouncing them. Alex Thomas, The New Republic, 15 Dec. 2022 Is the public afraid that Musk’s gutting of content moderation staff and CSAM teams in particular will lead to a surge in such vile material? Katherine Cross, WIRED, 12 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 8 Feb. 2023.

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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