• 3-minute read
  • 6th December 2020

Spelling Tips: Vice or Vise?

‘Vice’ and ‘vise’ are different spellings of a word that has a few meanings, including ‘a tool for gripping’ and ‘a bad habit’. But which is the correct spelling to use in Australian English? Below, we’ll find out.

What Does Vice Mean?

The word ‘vice’ is usually a noun and has two main meanings. One is to refer to a bad habit, moral fault, or illegal activities involving drugs or sex:

Chocolate is my only vice.

His worst vice was his greed.

The mayor wanted to wipe out vice in the city.

It can also refer to a tool used to hold something in place:

He put the frame in the vice so he could sand it.

His grip was as tight as a vice.

In addition, ‘vice’ can be a prefix used before a title to show that someone is second in command or deputy leader of a group or team. For example:

He hoped to be elected vice president.

They have made me vice captain of the football team.

In all cases, though, we use the spelling ‘vice’ in Australian English.

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Vice or Vise?

As noted above, in Australian English, the correct spelling is ‘vice’. This is also true for most other English-speaking countries, including the UK.

In American English, however, things are a little more complicated. Notably, they use the spelling ‘vise’ when talking about the gripping tool:

AUS English: He tightened the vice and began sanding.

US English: He tightened the vise and began sanding.

‘Vice’ is the correct spelling, though, for all other definitions:

US English: His worst vice is drinking.

US English: We need to call the vice president.

If you’re writing for an American audience, keep this difference in mind!

Summary: Vice or Vise?

In Australian English, regardless of whether you’re writing about a bad habit, a gripping tool, or someone who is second in command, you’ll need the spelling ‘vice’. This makes it nice and easy to remember!

‘Vise’, meanwhile, is only used in American English. And even then, it only applies to the gripping tool, not the other definitions above. Remember:

  • Australian English uses vice in all cases.
  • American English uses vice for bad habits and being second in command, but the correct spelling for the gripping tool is vise.

If you’d like any extra help with your spelling, though, you can upload a document and get it checked by one of our expert proofreaders.

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