Adjective; characterized by or full of viciousness or cruelty


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



cruel, malicious, malevolent, vicious, spiteful, hateful, vicious, nasty, aggressive


kind, compassionate, gentle, merciful, humane, benign, good-natured

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun viciousness, vice, vices, viciousnesses
Verb None
Adjective vicious
Adverb viciously

Example Sentences

  • The vicious attack of the wild animal left the village in a state of shock and fear, as it tore through homes and injured several residents.

  • The vicious rumors spread by the tabloids about the celebrity’s personal life were not only false but also caused significant emotional distress.

  • The gang engaged in a vicious turf war, leading to a series of violent clashes that ravaged the neighborhood and left many innocent bystanders injured.

  • The company’s unethical practices, such as exploiting child labor and engaging in environmental pollution, revealed its vicious disregard for human rights and the planet.


The word “vicious” traces its roots back to the Latin word “vitiosus,” meaning “full of faults” or “corrupt.” It entered the English language in the 14th century, originally used to describe someone or something morally corrupt or characterized by wickedness.

The suffix “-ous” in “vicious” is derived from Latin and is commonly used to form adjectives. It denotes the quality or state of being, in this case, characterized by viciousness or cruelty. The prefix “vi-” in “vicious” emphasizes the intensity or degree of the quality described.

“Vicious” is used to describe people, actions, or behaviors that are characterized by cruelty, violence, or a tendency to cause harm or destruction. It implies a lack of moral or ethical principles and suggests a willful intent to cause pain or suffering. This word can be applied to describe individuals who engage in aggressive or harmful acts, or to refer to animals or objects with dangerous or destructive tendencies. In the animal kingdom, the term is often used to describe creatures with a reputation for being aggressive and dangerous, such as snakes, lions, or sharks.

The usage of “vicious” can extend beyond physical violence to include verbal or emotional cruelty. It is often employed to describe intense conflicts, brutal or ruthless behavior, or situations marked by aggression and hostility. In a more abstract sense, the word can be used to describe things like vicious rumors or vicious attacks. The word “vicious” is often used as a synonym for “cruel” or “malicious”, implying that the person or thing described is intentionally causing harm. In contrast, the antonyms of “vicious” would be words like “kind” or “compassionate”, implying a lack of intention to cause harm.

It’s important to note that “vicious” carries a negative connotation and should be used judiciously. It is a powerful term that highlights the destructive or harmful nature of someone or something, often suggesting a need for caution or intervention to mitigate the harm caused.