1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
  2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
  3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
  4. a violent act or proceeding.
  5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
  6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

Origin of violence

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin violentia; see violent, -ence
Related formsan·ti·vi·o·lence, adjectivecoun·ter·vi·o·lence, nounself-vi·o·lence, noun

Synonyms for violence Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for counter-violence


  1. the exercise or an instance of physical force, usually effecting or intended to effect injuries, destruction, etc
  2. powerful, untamed, or devastating forcethe violence of the sea
  3. great strength of feeling, as in language, etc; fervour
  4. an unjust, unwarranted, or unlawful display of force, esp such as tends to overawe or intimidate
  5. do violence to
    1. to inflict harm upon; damage or violatethey did violence to the prisoners
    2. to distort or twist the sense or intention ofthe reporters did violence to my speech

Word Origin for violence

C13: via Old French from Latin violentia impetuosity, from violentus violent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for counter-violence



late 13c., "physical force used to inflict injury or damage," from Anglo-French and Old French violence, from Latin violentia "vehemence, impetuosity," from violentus "vehement, forcible," probably related to violare (see violation). Weakened sense of "improper treatment" is attested from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper