non·​vi·​o·​lence | \ ˌnän-ˈvī-ə-lən(t)s How to pronounce nonviolence (audio) \

Definition of nonviolence

1 : abstention from violence as a matter of principle also : the principle of such abstention
2a : the quality or state of being nonviolent : avoidance of violence
b : nonviolent demonstrations for the purpose of securing political ends

Examples of nonviolence in a Sentence

Demonstration organizers are urging nonviolence.
Recent Examples on the Web Lewis, a civil-rights pioneer, preached nonviolence even after a state trooper cracked his skull with a billy club as Lewis and other protesters were crossing a bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: A year that needs to get better," 18 Oct. 2020 To the contrary, the movement must be grounded in deep understanding of the strategic necessity of nonviolence to win. Eric Stoner, Star Tribune, "Get ready to resist the Trump coup attempt," 8 Oct. 2020 The non-profit created the Congressman John Lewis Fellowship, which pays former inmates to promote nonviolence and racial equity through storytelling and poetry. Lauren Lee, CNN, "How you can stir up some 'good trouble' through causes John Lewis supported," 19 Sep. 2020 This book will be a guide for students of King’s indelible teachings of nonviolence. Joseph Ross, New York Times, "Poem: Late," 17 Sep. 2020 This summer, as equity and nonviolence in policing came to the forefront of the national conversation and led to numerous protests nationwide, demonstrators in Utah focused on Palacios-Carbajal’s death and rallied almost daily. Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Big crowd watches Utah protesters in court for alleged paint crimes," 1 Sep. 2020 In her rebuttal to President Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, Harris reiterated the importance of nonviolence. Camille Caldera, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Kamala Harris said protests aren't going to stop, but condemns violence," 19 Aug. 2020 Communities Partnering 4 Peace, a coalition of more than a dozen organizations, mediates gang disputes, recruits former gang members to serve as nonviolence ambassadors, and works with police to reduce shootings and promote youth initiatives. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Two cities, a spike in crime, and the federal response," 5 Aug. 2020 As biographer Taylor Branch told Smithsonian in 2015, King’s understanding of nonviolence was more complex than is commonly argued. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "158 Resources to Understand Racism in America," 4 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nonviolence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of nonviolence

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nonviolence

Time Traveler for nonviolence

Time Traveler

The first known use of nonviolence was in 1831

See more words from the same year

Statistics for nonviolence

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nonviolence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nonviolence


How to pronounce nonviolence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nonviolence

: the practice of refusing to respond to anything (such as unfair or violent acts by a government) with violence

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nonviolence

What made you want to look up nonviolence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!