vi·​o·​lent | \ ˈvī-ə-lənt How to pronounce violent (audio) \

Definition of violent

1a(1) : marked by the use of usually harmful or destructive physical force a violent attack violent crime The peaceful demonstration turned violent.
(2) : showing or including violence violent movies
b : extremely powerful or forceful and capable of causing damage violent storms violent coughing
2 : caused by physical force or violence : not natural a violent death
3a : emotionally agitated to the point of using harmful physical force became violent after an insult
b : prone to commit acts of violence violent prison inmates
4a : notably forceful, furious, or vehement a violent argument a violent denunciation
b : extreme, intense violent pain violent colors

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Other Words from violent

violently adverb

Examples of violent in a Sentence

They witnessed a violent struggle between police and protesters. The peaceful protest suddenly turned violent. The city has experienced an increase in violent crime in the past year. The final scene was extremely violent. She suffered a violent death in a car accident. The patient suddenly became violent and had to be restrained. He's not a particularly violent person.
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Recent Examples on the Web Perpetrators of violent crimes sometimes argue that the victim's gender identity or sexuality provoked them to kill in a crime of passion -- a line of thought that LGBTQ advocates say excuses unacceptable actions and demeans LGBTQ lives. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for April 6: Covid-19, infrastructure, LGBT rights, Israel, Russia," 6 Apr. 2021 Police charged with committing violent crimes while on duty were convicted more than half the time during that period. Washington Post, "Derek Chauvin trial Second week of witness testimony begins, with more police experts expected to take the stand," 5 Apr. 2021 San Francisco’s crime rates shifted quite a bit compared with recent years, with violent crimes including rapes, assaults and robberies declining while property crimes increased, with burglaries spiking 46% and motor vehicle thefts rising 22%. Kellie Hwang, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bay Briefing: Crime in S.F. looks a lot different during the pandemic," 5 Apr. 2021 Police charged with committing violent crimes while on duty were convicted more than half the time during that period. Mark Berman, Anchorage Daily News, "When police kill people, they are rarely prosecuted and hard to convict," 4 Apr. 2021 House Bill 2094 would expand this program to some violent crimes. Tyler Arnold, Washington Examiner, "Juvenile restorative justice bill heads to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice," 2 Apr. 2021 The bill would only apply to certain violent crimes, such as murder, battery and assault. John Moritz, Arkansas Online, "Legislative leaders file ‘class-protection bill’," 1 Apr. 2021 For the village overall, according to Federal Bureau of Investigations statistics, the number of index crimes in Orland Park, which includes violent crimes as well as offenses such as burglary and motor vehicle theft, are at their lowest since 1994. Mike Nolan,, "Orland Park economy, public safety top issues in mayoral campaign," 26 Mar. 2021 Prosecutors have worried that if the deadlines remain in effect, judges will be forced to release some offenders accused of violent crimes. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Tulips in bloom, Vegas bustling, Blackfeet Nation: News from around our 50 states," 24 Mar. 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for violent

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin violentus; akin to Latin vis strength — more at vim

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Time Traveler for violent

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for violent

Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Violent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for violent



English Language Learners Definition of violent

: using or involving the use of physical force to cause harm or damage to someone or something : showing violence
: caused by physical force or violence
: trying to physically attack someone because of anger


vi·​o·​lent | \ ˈvī-ə-lənt How to pronounce violent (audio) \

Kids Definition of violent

1 : showing very strong force a violent earthquake
2 : extreme entry 1 sense 1, intense violent pain
3 : using or likely to use harmful force a violent person
4 : caused by force a violent death

Other Words from violent

violently adverb The ground shook violently.

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Comments on violent

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