Trend Watch


After it was used by a figure in the scandal surrounding ...


Lookups spiked on November 14, 2012.


The word was used by Jill Kelley, a figure in the scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus.

When she saw reporters gathered in front of her house in Tampa, Ms. Kelley – who had alerted an FBI agent to emails from the general's mistress – called police and requested protection. On the widely reported 911 call, Kelley said, "I'm an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability."

In this sense, inviolability refers to diplomatic immunity.

Inviolable means "too important to be ignored or treated with disrespect." It comes from the Latin words that mean "not" and "violate," and goes back to the Latin word that is also the root of violent.

It turns out that Jill Kelley's honorary title is just that: honorary. She was not entitled to any special protection or immunity.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!