Word Confusion: Vice versus Vise

Posted February 27, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

People! There is a distinct difference between “wicked behavior” and “a clamping hold”!

Of course, I suppose that a vice may well have a vise-like grip on a person, as addicting as that vice might be. However. It is no excuse to grab someone with a vice-like grip…hmmm…I may be wrong about that. A drug that could cause someone to become addicted could be considered to have a vice-like grip, I suppose… Unfortunately, vice is more of a metaphysical noun while vise is definitely physical.

I do like C.S. Lakin’s example: “I often see writers talk about being ‘squeezed in a vice grip’. But that makes me conjure up the image of a team of cops closing in on a criminal who has drugs hidden in his pocket” from her post, “Don’t Elicit Illicit Behavior“.

So pay attention: it is physically impossible (unless you’re British writing for a British audience) to grip someone in a vice of any sort.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Vice Vise

“Heating Up the Heroin” by Hendrike of Hamburg, Germany. Hauptbahnhof. (2001) via Wikipedia Commons.

Looks like a nasty vice to me.

“American-Made Bench Vise with Swivel Base” courtesy of USABC

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1, vise [British]Plural: vices [U.S.], vises [British]

Preposition 2, 3

Noun, vice [British]Plural: vises [U.S.], vices [British]
Bad, immoral, or wicked behavior 1

Weak character 1

Bad habit 1

[Informal] Short for vice president, vice admiral ++

As a substitute for 2

Acting as a deputy or substitute for

[Combination form] vice- Next in rank modifying any noun it precedes indicating a deputy 3

A tool with movable jaws used to hold an object firmly in place while work is done on it, typically attached to a workbench

May denote a screw or winch

Chocolate is my vice.

That man has more vices than the devil!

The president and the vice-president will be present for the meeting.

The letter was drafted by David Hunt, vice Bevin who was ill.

She’s the vice-admiral of the Solarian Navy.

The vice-president is scheduled to be here.

He was appointed vice regent to the Crown.

That dog grabs on like a vise!

Use the vise to hold the two pieces together.

He held on with a vise-like grip.

History of the Word:
1 Middle English from the Old French from the Latin vitium.

2 Latin, relating to vic- meaning change.

3 From the Latin vice meaning in place of.

Middle English and denoting a screw or winch and from the Old French vis, which is from the Latin vitis meaning vine.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

I resized and cropped the image, “Red Clothespins BDSM” by Diana Blackwell [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons depicts “a woman wearing a BDSM collar placing red clothespins on a man’s nipples and below his stomach, to emphasize the mini vises attached to the man’s nipple area. While this was obviously an activity he enjoyed, some people do see it as a vice…*grin*…