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 Dementia can bring on violent surges in some people. Detroit Free Press, "Vaccination questions raise privacy concerns," 16 Feb. 2021 But the issue is murky as tens of thousands flee violent gangs, natural disasters and political upheaval. Author: Elliot Spagat And Ben Fox, Anchorage Daily News, "Biden faces pressure as US sets new course on immigration," 16 Feb. 2021 Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation's statehouses. Star Tribune, "After the FBI warned about far-right attacks, agents arrested a leftist ex-soldier," 16 Feb. 2021 The study found some teenagers were more aggressive after playing violent video games. Cathleen O’grady, Science | AAAS, "Research linking violent entertainment to aggression retracted after scrutiny," 16 Feb. 2021 While the jail officer is not accused of any wrongdoing, Cuyahoga County and jail officials have long struggled with the Heartless Felons -- the area’s most widespread and violent gang -- and the gang’s role in distributing drugs in the jail. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County Jail officer found in car with suspected Heartless Felons gang member accused of possessing loaded rifle, drugs," 16 Feb. 2021 Quentin Tarantino’s violent western/chamber play sees great performances from Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins and more. Ben Flanagan |, al, "Snow movies: 25 flaky films to watch in the winter weather, from ‘Fargo’ to ‘Frozen’," 15 Feb. 2021 The Portland Street Response team surveyed police and fire call data to determine where the majority of the city’s non-violent, non-emergency calls were clustered. oregonlive, "Portland Street Response finally launching to address mental health, homeless calls," 15 Feb. 2021 What religious figures were turning them into violent extremists? Jennifer Rubin, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | JENNIFER RUBIN: Meet the moment, media," 14 Feb. 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

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Violent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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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