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Related: immoral - sin - Society for Suppression of Vice - religion

Contrast: virtue


Vice is the opposite of virtue. The modern English term that best captures its original meaning is the word vicious, which means "full of vice." In this sense, the word vice comes from the Latin word vitium, meaning "failing or defect". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vice [Jul 2004]

Vice and Virtue

One way of organising the vices is as the corruption of the virtues. A virtue can be corrupted by nonuse, misuse, or overuse. Thus the cardinal vices would be apostasy (nonuse of piety), lust (nonuse of temperance), cowardice (nonuse of courage), folly (misuse of an virtue, opposite of wisdom), Effeminacy (soft, unmanliness) and venality (nonuse of justice).

Harmony of vices

Since virtues might be said to harmonize, so that every virtue requires all the virtues to some extent, vices also might be said to harmonize; i.e. every vice requires other vices to some extent. If this is the case, the presence of one vice in an individual might be evidence of others.

Popular usage

The term vice is also popularly applied to various activities considered immoral by some; a list of these might include the use of alcohol and other recreational drugs, sexual promiscuity, gambling, recklessness, cheating, lying, and selfishness.


* Virtues and Vices, Aristotle, trans. H. Rackman, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, l992. Vol #285.


All etymologies according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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