adjective vi·o·lent \ ˈvī-ə-lənt \
Updated on: 8 Mar 2018

Definition of violent

1 a (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
3 a : 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
4 a : notably forceful, furious, or vehement
  • a violent argument
  • a violent denunciation
b : extreme, intense
  • violent pain
  • violent colors



Examples of violent in a Sentence

  1. They witnessed a violent struggle between police and protesters.

  2. The peaceful protest suddenly turned violent.

  3. The city has experienced an increase in violent crime in the past year.

  4. The final scene was extremely violent.

  5. She suffered a violent death in a car accident.

  6. The patient suddenly became violent and had to be restrained.

  7. He's not a particularly violent person.

Recent Examples of violent from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of violent

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

VIOLENT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of violent for English Language Learners

  • : 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

VIOLENT Defined for Kids


adjective vi·o·lent \ ˈvī-ə-lənt \

Definition of violent for Students

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


  • The ground shook violently.

Seen and Heard

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mournful or dismal

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