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 To speak the word that Leonard spoke when streaming his on-line video-game play was vile. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 5 Nov. 2022 And even when the subject matter is vile, the pencil or brush caresses the paper. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, 25 Oct. 2022 In one particularly vile incident that spilled over into my personal life and became a matter of my family’s personal safety, authorities had to get involved. Roxanne Jones, CNN, 7 Nov. 2022 Although the monster is the biggest physical threat in the film, AJ represents a vile, cowardly rot—the kind Cregger has likely noticed in powerful men in his industry. David Sims, The Atlantic, 4 Nov. 2022 Inmates on death row in prison systems across the country have included some of the most vicious and vile murderers whose crimes have shocked and sickened the public. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 4 Nov. 2022 The reaction of course extends well beyond the vile Musk. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 31 Oct. 2022 But courts would likely rule that social-media executives have a First Amendment right not to be associated with vile statements. WSJ, 24 Oct. 2022 The meaty ones, though, were another story — in a word, vile. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 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 1 Dec. 2022.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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