vi·​o·​late | \ ˈvī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce violate (audio) \
violated; violating

Definition of violate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : break, disregard violate the law
2 : to do harm to the person or especially the chastity of specifically : rape sense 1
3 : to fail to show proper respect for : profane violate a shrine
4 : interrupt, disturb violate the peace of a spring evening— Nancy Larter


vi·​o·​late | \ ˈvī-ə-lət How to pronounce violate (audio) \

Definition of violate (Entry 2 of 2)

: subjected to violation

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Other Words from violate


violative \ vī-​ə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce violative (audio) \ adjective
violator \ vī-​ə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce violator (audio) \ noun

Examples of violate in a Sentence

Verb He was arrested for violating his parole. The company violated its customers' privacy. She was attacked and violated by an unknown intruder.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The fees approved by the Phoenix City Council probably violated a 2018 ballot measure prohibiting higher taxes on services, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said. Washington Post, "Official says Phoenix airport ride-hailing fee is illegal," 17 Jan. 2020 The plaintiffs argued the firearms ban violates the First and Second Amendments and that Northam didn't have the authority to impose it. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "Judge upholds firearms ban for Virginia gun rally," 17 Jan. 2020 Beckham has to know handing cash to players violates NCAA rules and could lead to penalties for the players and his alma mater. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "What should new Cleveland Browns leaders do about Odell Beckham Jr?," 16 Jan. 2020 In one-third of the seclusion incidents, the law was violated, the investigation found; for restraint, the violation rate was one out of four. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Illinois Lawmakers Are Calling for a Nationwide Ban on Isolated Timeouts of Students," 15 Jan. 2020 The beneficiaries sued for $748 million to restore their pension fund after discovering that, in 2008, managers mishandled money, violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and leaving their plan underfunded. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Supreme Court chief John Roberts reminds USB that no bank is too big to fail," 14 Jan. 2020 In all 4768 trials Science checked, sponsors violated the reporting law more than 55% of the time. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "FDA and NIH let clinical trial sponsors keep results secret and break the law," 13 Jan. 2020 To consider any event as being literally without comparison would violate our sense of history as a continuum in which human conduct flows in recognizable ways. Peter E. Gordon, The New York Review of Books, "Why Historical Analogy Matters," 7 Jan. 2020 Although the lawsuit concerns five, Sonos reportedly believes Google and Amazon violated 100 of its patents. TheWeek, "Sonos is accusing Google and Amazon of stealing its technology — and it's taking Google to court," 7 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Videos that do not clearly violate YouTube's polices -- that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content -- will appear with a warning and will not be able to gain revenue with ads. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "Google, YouTube step up fight against online terrorism and extremism," 19 June 2017 Monday, May 22 Victim of violate domestic relations court order, 1500 block Montecito Road. Sunday, May 21 Female, 38, Ramona Sentinel, "Sheriff's Reports: Thief steals clothing from thrift store," 30 May 2017 On Friday, two government watchdog groups called for investigations into the payroll requests and stipend payments, which seemed to potentially violate state law related to knowingly offering false documents to government officials or agencies. Jesse Mckinley, New York Times, "4 G.O.P. Senators in New York Also Got False Titles That Carry Extra Pay," 12 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of violate


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for violate


Middle English, from Latin violatus, past participle of violare, from viol- (as in violentus violent)

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Time Traveler for violate

Time Traveler

The first known use of violate was in the 15th century

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Statistics for violate

Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Violate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for violate


How to pronounce violate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of violate

: to do something that is not allowed by (a law, rule, etc.)
: to take away, interfere with, or ignore (something, such as a person's rights or privacy) in an unfair or illegal way
: to abuse or show disrespect for (something, such as a holy place) usually by damaging it


vi·​o·​late | \ ˈvī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce violate (audio) \
violated; violating

Kids Definition of violate

1 : to fail to keep : break Students who violate the rules are punished.
2 : to treat in a very disrespectful way Vandals violated the shrine.
3 : disturb sense 1 Don't violate their privacy.

Other Words from violate

violator \ -​ˌlā-​tər \ noun
vi·​o·​late | \ ˈvī-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce violate (audio) \
violated; violating

Legal Definition of violate

: to go against (as a prohibition or principle) : fail to observe or respect violate a law civil rights were violated violate due process

Other Words from violate

violation \ ˌvī-​ə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce violation (audio) \ noun
violative \ ˈvī-​ə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce violative (audio) \ adjective
violator \ ˈvī-​ə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce violator (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on violate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for violate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with violate

Spanish Central: Translation of violate

Nglish: Translation of violate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of violate for Arabic Speakers

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