Meaning of VICIOUS in English


ˈvishəs adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French vicieus, from Latin vitiosus full of faults, bad, corrupt, from vitium blemish, crime, vice + -osus -ous — more at with


a. : having the nature or quality of vice : violative of moral rectitude : contrary to accepted standards of right or good : debased, depraved

a great university, in a few months, became a vicious political tool — R.A.Smith

b. : addicted to vice, immorality, or depravity : corrupt or dissolute in conduct : evil , reprobate

a family with a good mother can withstand a feckless or even a vicious father — Times Literary Supplement


a. : missing or incompatible with a norm of excellence : failing to meet a test or criterion : bad , faulty , poor , reprehensible

discriminate between thoroughly vicious ideas and those which should have a chance to be heard — Zechariah Chafee

criticism at its most vicious — C.D.Lewis

b. : marred or nullified by imperfection : voided before the law by inherent defect : unlawful

a badly drawn or vicious bill — Allan Nevins

c. : ruined or invalidated by defect

a vicious argument

: inferior in form or taste : stunted in development : impaired , trivial

a vicious line of reasoning

vicious and ephemeral light verse

vicious spelling


a. : foul , impure , noxious

b. : diseased , malignant , morbid

a gastric carcinoma is a very vicious tumor — W.H.Cole


a. : having dangerous or refractory habits : savage , untamed

a particularly vicious dog which snapped at every passerby — American Guide Series: Rhode Island

b. : marked by violence or ferocity : fierce , sharp , wild

took a vicious swing at him with the pick — Rex Ingamells

vicious animosity of political opponents — American Guide Series: Tennessee

c. : of or relating to perverse or abnormal behavior of domestic animals

the vicious habit of picking feathers — Poultry Science

5. : malicious , spiteful

ugly and vicious stories invented and repeated by respectable lawyers and college professors — A.M.Schlesinger b. 1917

6. : intense , severe

there have been unusually vicious windstorms — Janet Flanner

7. : painfully strenuous or extreme

the alternative of a vicious tightening of … belts later in the year — Economist

8. : having a sequence or progression analogous to that of a vicious circle : intensified, worsened, or accelerated by internal causes that reciprocally aggravate each other's bad effects

you can see in all this wage business the vicious spiral at work. The miners got more pay, so coal prices went up, so the railways raised their freight charges, so coal prices went up again to meet dearer transport, so the miners asked for more pay to meet the higher cost of living — Margaret Stewart

a vicious cycle


villainous , iniquitous , nefarious , flagitious , infamous , corrupt , degenerate : vicious may suggest addiction to or exemplification of vice, immorality, or depravity; it may connote violence, deliberate cruelty, or effective malignancy

she had been vicious and unnatural; she had thriven on hatred, and had made life a hell for everyone about her — W.H.Wright

protect the community from even its thoroughly vicious young criminals — Bruce Smith

vicious accusations in the press that Jews had poisoned water supplies — Shlomo Katz

villainous is a forceful general descriptive term for anything depraved, scoundrelly, evil, or vile

certain villainous government officials had plotted to murder the Count — Edmund Wilson

nor does great creative Nature pause for one minute to discourage such scoundrels in their villainous malpractice — J.C.Powys

iniquitous applies to an utter lack of justice or fairness, a callous disregard for decent conduct or procedure

they now appeared to him everything that was iniquitous and bad. Secret murder was their object — black, foul, midnight murder — Anthony Trollope

that quenchless hunger for raw, quick, dirty money in American politics, which hardly sugarcoats its bribes, which glazes over its most iniquitous corruption — W.A.White

nefarious sometimes suggests impiety or flagrantly countering established laws and social principles

he kills devotion with an almost infallible aim. Charity turns into a lump of ice under his nefarious gaze — Julien Green

our politicians would not dare to sacrifice the life and happiness of innumerable children to their nefarious schemes of bloodshed and oppression — Bertrand Russell

flagitious may describe whatever is disgracefully or scandalously wicked

the most flagitious villain upon earth — Henry Fielding

infamous is a general adjective for anything very bad, abhorrent, base, and deserving of evil fame

this man is of a character so infamous that he will stick at no falsehood, or hesitate at no crime — W.M.Thackeray

the infamous Luboff, who, as chief of the secret police at Odessa after the defeat of Denikin's army, put thousands of innocent people to death — Valentine Williams

corrupt applies to what has lost integrity, honesty, and virtue and become degraded and depraved

now known to have been a traitor to the United States, a pensioner of Spain, and an accomplice of Aaron Burr: corrupt, profligate, and insubordinate — Allan Nevins & H.S.Commager

a disordered and competitive mob, bent only on turning each to his own personal advantage the now corrupt machinery of administration and law — G.L.Dickinson

degenerate may suggest retrogression and corruption into an especially vicious or enervated condition

the degenerate practices of the court of the Caesars

the degenerate physique as a whole is often marked by diminished stature and inferior vigor — H.G.Armstrong

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.