Definition of violence in US English:



  • 1Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

    • ‘The aims of the campaign are to highlight the prevalence of violence against women.’
    • ‘All four defendants deny they were responsible for any of the violence against him.’
    • ‘More people were killed in political violence in those four years, than in the previous thirty.’
    • ‘One act of violence against another is an act of violence against one's self.’
    • ‘His attitude showed how domestic violence can be as damaging mentally as it is physically.’
    • ‘What I do not respect however is people who kill or otherwise use violence against people for any reason.’
    • ‘She is pushing for changes in the penal code for rape and violence against women.’
    • ‘There had been some physical violence, but a court safety order seemed to sort that.’
    • ‘Police have warned fans that that any violence or bad behaviour will not be tolerated.’
    • ‘Poor behaviour and violence in class is said to be one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.’
    • ‘He began life in a violent way but has learnt to channel that physical violence into creative energy.’
    • ‘It is now being recognised that there is a problem of increased violence against staff.’
    • ‘What hurts most about domestic violence is that the bruises on your body are created by somebody you love.’
    • ‘The most serious incidents include criminal damage and violence against people.’
    • ‘But the down side is the possibility of violence and bad behaviour on the streets.’
    • ‘The trouble then spreads to town centre takeaways with incidents of criminal damage and violence.’
    • ‘The scheme comes about in response to increased levels of violence against health workers.’
    • ‘Family violence is one of the most insidious forms of violence against women.’
    • ‘We found a clear relation between experiencing controlling behaviour and violence.’
    • ‘New laws could be passed in a bid to tackle the increasing levels of violence against nurses and hospital staff.’
    brutality, brute force, roughness, ferocity, fierceness, savagery, cruelty, sadism, barbarity, barbarousness, brutishness, murderousness, bloodthirstiness, ruthlessness, inhumanity, heartlessness, pitilessness, mercilessness
    forcefulness, force, full force, power, powerfulness, strength, might, savagery, ferocity, brutality, destructiveness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.
      ‘the violence of her own feelings’
      • ‘Alarmed by the violence of her sorrow and by being a witness to it, but impatient with the sorrow itself, Ray was a poor pacifier.’
      • ‘No blood is spilled in the book - but its emotional violence is devastating.’
      • ‘The violence of the wind had lessened - though the air remained redolent with the smell of dust.’
      intensity, severity, strength, force, great force, vehemence, powerfulness, power, potency, ferocity, forcefulness, wildness, frenziedness, fury, storminess, tempestuousness, turbulence
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Law The unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.
      • ‘He charges him with a wicked deed of violence to be punished by death, or in the twelfth century by mutilation.’
      • ‘So that it was not as if she was trying to escape from an immediate threat of violence to her.’
      • ‘She claims that she acted in self defence following domestic violence when he threatened her with the gun.’
      • ‘Another tenant in the property was also causing a large amount of problems including acts of violence.’
      • ‘That is the level of violence that deserves the sentence that was imposed in this case.’
      • ‘In other words the receipt of the letter led him to believe that immediate unlawful violence would be used.’
      • ‘That leaves the question of how immediate or imminent the threatened violence needs to be.’
      • ‘The claimant and his family have been the victims of violence and discrimination in one town.’
      • ‘With two exceptions, actual violence by the deceased upon the accused was required.’
      • ‘He was alleged to have forced the complainant by violence or threats to engage in sexual activity with him.’
      • ‘The appellant had no record for offences of violence or of a sexual nature.’
      • ‘They are subject to family violence at home and sexual harassment in the work place.’
      • ‘Implicit in that was a threat to use violence if the bailiff went ahead.’
      • ‘It is not suggested by the appellant that he was threatened with violence in 1985.’
      • ‘If they enforced contracts by violence they were supplying a deficiency of commercial law.’
      • ‘I would like to say a word or two about those who use violence and intimidation to try and stop testing.’
      • ‘The fact on which he now relies is that though he stole, he did not in fact threaten violence.’
      • ‘Each of the people who uses or threatens unlawful violence will be guilty of the offence.’
      • ‘The deceased's use of violence was not premeditated and he had no intention to kill.’
      • ‘Well the whole history of the relevance of violence in Family Law is an interesting one.’


  • do violence to

    • Damage or adversely affect.

      • ‘Six wives said their husbands had threatened to do violence to their children or to their parents and five had been threatened by their husbands with lethal weapons.’
      • ‘And, at every step, those doing violence to the system were claiming that they were defending it.’
      • ‘These are chance events, in that they could have been different without doing violence to the laws of Nature.’
      • ‘He certainly looked like he would like to do violence to Peters at that point.’
      • ‘If one tries to categorize commercial agricultural production or wage labor activity solely as resistance, one does violence to more than language.’
      • ‘At times the attempt to draw literal, historical analogies does violence to Stevensian irony.’
      • ‘I'd agree with reviewers who say that to summarise or comment on the plot is simply to do violence to the work.’
      • ‘A temperance newspaper proclaimed, typically, that ‘[n]o man can drink intoxicating liquors… without doing violence to his manhood.’’
      • ‘We have to choose knowing that when we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves.’
      • ‘To fail to follow this rule is to do violence to the positions of the king and queen.’


Middle English: via Old French from Latin violentia, from violent- ‘vehement, violent’ (see violent).