Definition of vicious in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈviSHəs/


1Deliberately cruel or violent: a vicious assault
More example sentences
  • This was a cowardly, savage and vicious attack on a man who was utterly helpless.
  • It was a brutal, vicious and pitiless attack in which you showed your victim no mercy.
  • The tabloids violated my family's privacy in a manner that I felt was vicious and indecent.
brutal, ferocious, savage, violent, dangerous, ruthless, remorseless, merciless, heartless, callous, cruel, harsh, cold-blooded, inhuman, fierce, barbarous, barbaric, brutish, bloodthirsty, fiendish, sadistic, monstrous, murderous, homicidal
informal smash-mouth
malicious, malevolent, malignant, malign, spiteful, hateful, vindictive, venomous, poisonous, rancorous, mean, cruel, bitter, cutting, acrimonious, hostile, nasty;
defamatory, slanderous
informal catty
1.1(Of an animal) wild and dangerous to people.
Example sentences
  • It seems I am now safely in my home, far from the menacing arms of the vicious beast which drove me from the wild!
  • Bloodstained snow, heavy cloaks, blackened eyes, Indian rites, puritanical fire and brimstone and the ominous howl of vicious wolf beasts.
  • I would like to warn cat owners about a vicious dog in the Long Ditton area.
1.2Serious or dangerous: a vicious flu bug
More example sentences
  • The race officer used great imagination, setting several angles across the lake, but conditions were difficult with vicious squalls and considerable wind shifts.
  • A person can be successfully evil only if he or she can embody a peculiarly nasty blend of vicious evil and laudable good.
  • As aggressive as enemy soldiers in the ‘Great War’, the flu proved a vicious killer.
2 literary Immoral: every soul on earth, virtuous or vicious, shall perish
More example sentences
  • What had made me smile was his vicious and vile bigotry.
  • As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.
  • Satan, who represents Evil, the utterly vicious, is yet not a monster because he also fits absolutely into a certain moral universe, a certain symbolic order.
3 archaic (Of language or a line of reasoning) imperfect; defective.


Middle English (in the sense 'characterized by immorality'): from Old French vicious or Latin vitiosus, from vitium 'vice'.

  • vice from Middle English:

    In the sense of immorality vice is from Latin vitium ‘vice’, also the source of vicious (Middle English). This originally meant ‘showing vice’ but was extended to mean ‘savage’ in descriptions of bad-tempered horses (early 18th century), and later (early 19th century) to mean ‘spiteful’. The tool sense was originally a word for a screw or winch that comes via Old French vis, from Latin vitis ‘vine’ from the spiral growth of the vine's tendrils.

Words that rhyme with vicious

adventitious, Aloysius, ambitious, auspicious, avaricious, capricious, conspicuous, delicious, expeditious, factitious, fictitious, flagitious, judicious, lubricious, malicious, Mauritius, meretricious, nutritious, officious, pernicious, propitious, repetitious, seditious, siliceous, superstitious, suppositious, surreptitious, suspicious

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: vi·cious

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