Vice Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Wondering about the meaning of vice? We can help. Read on as we explore this term to uncover its definition, origin, and more.

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If you’re wondering what the word vice means (pronounced as vaɪs or ˈvaɪsɪ), go ahead and give yourself a nice pat on the back — you’re in the right place! In this post, we’re exploring the term vice to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more. Are you ready? 

Let’s get started!

What Does Vice Mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word Vice is defined as a weakness in someone’s character or their moral fault. To really grasp the definition and to further understand the word vice, let’s look at additional definitions:

  • Vice can be defined as a flaw or defect when referencing a work of art.
  • The Free Dictionary defines vice as a form of pernicious conduct (e.g., the sale of illegal drugs, prostitution, and certain other forms of typically nonviolent criminal behavior). 
  • Alternatively, vice can be defined as a preposition for the successor of or deputy of a person in the highest command, like a Vice President.

Fun Fact: In the United States, most municipal police departments often have a division dedicated solely to vice, manned by officers whose sole job is to figure out crime related to gambling, corruption, alcohol, and drugs. 

After reviewing the definitions provided above, we can safely conclude that the noun vice can be described as a practice or habit considered wicked, vile, or downright immoral. In contrast, the prefix vice simply means number two in command. 

Vise vs. Vice

 A quick note to the reader, while vice and vise can easily be confused in spoken conversation, vice is not to be confused with the noun vise.

Vise was derived from Anglo-French vice and the Old French vis, meaning screw. This, in turn, comes from Latin vītis, meaning “tendrils of a vine” or simply “vine.”

Vise, defined in this sense, is a clamp or tool for holding a certain object in place while it is being worked on.

What Is the Origin of Vice?

A word’s etymology or “linguistic history” is very much the same as the origin story of your favorite character. Simply put, the more we learn about the past, the better we can understand our present.

The history behind vice starts around the 1300s deriving from Old French vice, meaning failing, irregularity, misdemeanor, or fault. It also comes from the Latin vitium, defined as a defect, blemish, offense, or imperfection in both the word’s moral and physical senses. 

What Are Synonyms and Antonyms of Vice?

An always spectacular method of expanding your English language vocabulary and an exciting way to avoid repeating yourself in spoken and written English is through the proper usage of synonyms and antonyms. 

Before we get ahead of ourselves, what are synonyms? Synonyms are phrases or words with the same definition or meaning as the original word or phrase. Below you will find a list of synonyms provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • Immorality
  • Corruption
  • Subaltern
  • Aide
  • Venality
  • Godlessness
  • Lewdness
  • Lechery
  • Error
  • Clanger
  • Indecency
  • Sin
  • Streetwalking
  • Maleficence
  • Failing
  • Fault
  • Infirmity
  • Deputy
  • Helpmate
  • Assistant
  • Blemish
  • Foible

Now, what if we want to talk about the opposite of vice? For that, we turn to antonyms, these “opposite words,” or antonyms, have the opposite meaning of the original word. 

As with synonyms, these newfound words greatly help us expand our English language vocabulary. This varying list of antonyms is also provided by the fine folks over at Power Thesaurus:

  • Virtue
  • Goodness
  • Decency
  • Prowess
  • Competency
  • Good
  • Caution
  • Craft
  • Purity
  • Merit
  • Aptitude
  • Skillfulness
  • Clout
  • Care
  • Virtuosity
  • Asceticism
  • Benevolence
  • Propriety

The Word Vice in Example Sentences

There are many ways to use the word vice in a sentence; this is largely because vice can be used as a prefix or a noun, leading to quite an array of ways to use vice. 

By creating or even just reading example sentences, you can not only better learn the definition of the word, but it also helps you to fully grasp the proper way to incorporate the word into your ever-expanding vocabulary. Try using vice in a sentence today! 

Below you will find a few different examples to help you get on the right track to better understanding the word vice:

  • Please develop specific positions for all of your team members, including but not limited to president, vice president, and the list goes on.
  • Did you hear that Suzy was recently named vice chairman!?
  • My boss wholeheartedly agreed that work banishes the great evils: boredom, poverty, and vice. 
  • I like to indulge in my many vices over the weekend following a long week of hard work. 

Idioms Using Vice

Alternatively, there are a few phrases and idioms for the word vice; idioms exist in every language. These idioms are words or phrases not meant to be taken literally. Below, we have listed a shortlist of a few phrases and idioms provided by Power Thesaurus that involve vices:

  • Den of Iniquity
  • Bad Habit
  • Weak Point
  • Venial Sin
  • Evil Habit
  • Mortal Sin
  • Feet of Clay
  • Achilles Heel
  • Besetting Sin
  • Fall From Grace
  • Sexual Immorality
  • Immoral Conduct
  • Oldest Profession
  • On the Take
  • Slip of the Pen
  • Chink in Your Armour
  • World’s Oldest Profession

A Final Word

At the end of the day, a vice is a bad habit or a moral failing. An example of this is cheating and lying, which are both forms of vice — but remember, anything can be a vice. 

As long as there are varying views in the world, there may be someone who views a certain behavior as “bad” or a moral weakness. One may even casually say that cookie dough ice cream is my vice, as I can not go a day without eating the tasty snack! 


  1. VICE | definition in the | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Vice synonyms – 1 350 Words and Phrases for Vice | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Vice – definition of vice | The Free Dictionary