I'm having trouble finding a definition of vice that explains its usage in the following NYTimes article:

The Monarch, no less boldly than her compeer, dashed among the rebel fleet, and singling out the Lovell, under full speed struck her fairly near the wheel, her prow crashing far into the hull, and remaining for a moment fastened as in a vice.

The closest meaning I could find is "vise" (British vice), which in the Oxford Dictionaries means:

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

  • 3
    You've answered your own question. The things are held or squeezed as if they were in a vice/vise. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Nov 20 '12 at 14:04
  • 'Vice' is an alternate spelling of 'vise'? i that the British spelling? I had no idea. I thought 'vice' is a peccadillo, a venial sin. – Mitch Nov 20 '12 at 16:16
  • @Mitch That's a different definition of the word. Like "vice president": the government official responsible for keeping the administration corrupt. – Jay Nov 20 '12 at 16:24
  • @Jay: sure, but 'vice' in American English never means the squeezing tool. – Mitch Nov 20 '12 at 16:27
  • @Mitch: I'm in the U.S., and I've seen both "vice" and "vise" used for the tool. Or, put another way, I've seen vice mean vise, vice vice. – J.R. Nov 20 '12 at 17:14

Vise or Vice, a tool that can apply enormous squeezing pressure.

  • "Vice" is the American spelling. Britons often mis-spell this as "vise". :-) – Jay Nov 20 '12 at 16:23
  • what? not the other way round? – Mitch Nov 20 '12 at 20:05

The mechanism in a vice is very strong and will not loosen or yield to movement or pressure of the object being held. A vice is usually attached to a bench. In your examples it means those things will not budge as they are held fast as if by a metaphorical vice.

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