A thing or a person that is vicious is very mean or extremely cruel and dangerous.

  • The man was a victim of a vicious attack.
  • A vicious storm killed dozens of people.
  • Melinda felt humiliated by a vicious rumor about her and another coworker.
  • Two boys got into a vicious fight on the playground.
  • The vicious battle in northern Syria lasted several days.
  • Living in poverty creates a vicious cycle* that’s hard to break, but there’s hope through education.

The adverb form for this word is "viciously."

  • During the debate, the candidates viciously attacked each other’s reputation in a verbal exchange.
  • Slaves who worked on American plantations were beaten viciously or killed if they ever tried to escape.


His dog was the victim of a vicious attack by a wolf.

*vicious cycle: a bad situation that constantly repeats itself and is hard to escape.

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This page was first published on January 22, 2014. It was updated on May 21, 2016.