Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French vicios, from Latin vitiosus full of faults, corrupt, from vitium vice
Date: 14th century
1. having the nature or quality of vice or immorality ; depraved
2. defective, faulty; also invalid
3. impure, noxious
a. dangerously aggressive ; savage <a vicious dog> b. marked by violence or ferocity ; fierce <a vicious fight> 5. malicious, spiteful <vicious gossip> 6. worsened by internal causes that reciprocally augment each other <a vicious wage-price spiral> • viciously adverb • viciousness noun Synonyms: vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct. vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence <a vicious gangster>. villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic <a villainous assault>. iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness <an iniquitous system of taxation>. nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct <the nefarious rackets of organized crime>. corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations <city hall was rife with corrupt politicians>. degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition <a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers>.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.