vi·o·lence | \ ˈvī-lən(t)s , ˈvī-ə- \

Definition of violence 

1a : the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy

b : an instance of violent treatment or procedure

2 : injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation : outrage

3a : intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force the violence of the storm

b : vehement feeling or expression : fervor also : an instance of such action or feeling

c : a clashing or jarring quality : discordance

4 : undue alteration (as of wording or sense in editing a text)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for violence


force, foul play



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of violence in a Sentence

They need to learn how to settle their arguments without resorting to violence. movies filled with sex and violence The violence of the storm caused great fear.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Many of those attempting to cross the border are families from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, three countries in Central America suffering high levels of poverty, with violence rates higher than those of many countries at war. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018 There is a mother-daughter duo organizing against excessive police violence and a Black Panthers member working to house the displaced. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 2018 Faux bullet holes, cigars and cigarettes suggest a drunken party’s aftermath and allude to the crisis of alcoholism and violence on reservations. George Fishman, miamiherald, "Monarchs ‘Brown and Native’ butterfly exhibit a response to contemporary events," 13 July 2018 When West Virginia teachers go on strike demanding fair wages, coal miners are laid off, when kids see violence and abuse erupt around them, people begin to live in fear. Clay Marsh, STAT, "Facing deaths of despair from the depths of despair in West Virginia," 12 July 2018 And there are also fewer conflicts in the world and less sort of external violence and need for defense: Ever since the end of the Cold War there’s been less need of unified-alliance defensive efforts. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Is It Fair for Trump to Bash NATO Over Military Spending?," 12 July 2018 This is not a call for violence or harassment against you. Monique Judge, The Root, "#PermitPatty Said She Only ‘Pretended’ to Call the Police. The 911 Recording Says ... That Was a Lie," 28 June 2018 Advocates have said that denying asylum to survivors will be a death sentence for many women and their families, who are fleeing violence at the hands of their intimate partners and gangs., "U.S. Will Automatically Reject Asylum Requests From Domestic Violence Survivors," 12 July 2018 The program, which launched a year and a half ago, has not been around long enough to determine how the program affects recidivism, but the dramatic drop in violence and other incidents has them planning to expand, Mr. Semple said. David Jordan, The Christian Science Monitor, "Vermont rolls out a new idea to rehabilitate young offenders," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'violence.' 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 violence

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about violence

Phrases Related to violence

do violence to

Statistics for violence

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for violence

The first known use of violence was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for violence



English Language Learners Definition of violence

: the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc.

: great destructive force or energy


vi·o·lence | \ ˈvī-ə-ləns \

Kids Definition of violence

1 : the use of force to harm a person or damage property

2 : great force or strength especially of a kind that involves destruction Timothy was not purposely trying to frighten me about the violence of the storm … —Theodore Taylor, The Cay

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on violence

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


characteristic trappings or dress

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

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!