vi·​o·​lent | \ˈvī-ə-lənt \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Some states with high violent crime may choose to enforce gun laws more strictly than the federal government does. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Supreme Court Gamble," 5 Dec. 2018 And violence by intimate partners accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. Anna North, Vox, "At Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, domestic violence became multiple homicide. It’s part of a disturbing pattern.," 21 Nov. 2018 Former inmates are more likely than not to return to communities that are already overwhelmed by violent crime. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Take a Step Back on the First Step Act," 20 Nov. 2018 An educator in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, where violent crime is high, isn’t worried about a mass shooting: Gun violence is an ever-present threat for his students. Beatrix Lockwood, Marie Claire, "Teaching In the Age of Mass Shootings," 5 Sep. 2018 In theaters Saturday, July 28 Pink Collar Crimes: Questionable title aside, this interesting new series is hosted by Marcia Clark and explores women who've committed violent crimes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "10 TV Shows and Movies to Watch This Week, Because It's Too Hot to Go Outside," 22 July 2018 Winter discontent The description of the White Russian mutiny and its violent suppression comes from Rebellion in the Archangel Regiment, a memo from Capt. WSJ, "Archangel Endnotes," 9 Nov. 2018 Her grandparents, Monáe tells me, passed down the tales from their ancestors about watching slaves escape during Bleeding Kansas, a series of violent clashes in the lead-up to the Civil War. Sean Knight, Glamour, "Janelle Monáe Knows She Has Your Attention. Get Ready for What's Next.," 5 Nov. 2018 Because of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, our culture is once again focusing on how women experience violent emotions. Patricia Grisafi, SELF, "When I’m Gaming, I Can Stop Being a People Pleaser and Embrace My Anger," 1 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about violent

Statistics for violent

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for violent

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on violent

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for violent

Spanish Central: Translation of violent

Nglish: Translation of violent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of violent for Arabic Speakers

Comments on violent

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


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!