[ vahy-uh-leyt ]
/ 藞va瑟 蓹藢le瑟t /
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See synonyms for: violate / violated / violating / violator on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), vi路o路lat路ed, vi路o路lat路ing.
to break, infringe, or transgress (a law, rule, agreement, promise, instructions, etc.).
to break in upon or disturb rudely; interfere thoughtlessly with: to violate his privacy.
to break through or pass by force or without right: to violate a frontier.
to treat irreverently or disrespectfully; desecrate; profane: violate a human right.
to molest sexually, especially to rape.
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
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鈥淲as鈥 is used for the indicative past tense of 鈥渢o be,鈥 and 鈥渨ere鈥 is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of violate

1400鈥50; late Middle English <Latin viol膩tus, past participle of viol膩re to treat with violence, violate, apparently derivative of violentusviolent (taking viol- as base); see -ate1


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What else does violate mean?

To violate is to breach some code of conduct, often in an egregious manner. It is often used to describe breaking the law or committing physical violence against another鈥揺specially rape and sexual assault. In Black slang, to violate someone is personally insulting or assaulting someone.

Where does violate come from?

Violate has violent origins. Indeed, the two words are related. They both come from a Latin root meaning 鈥渢o treat with violence.鈥

The verb violate was first recorded in the 1400s for 鈥渟exually assaulting or raping someone鈥 and soon after 鈥渂reaking a rule or law.鈥

Zoom ahead to the 1960s, when violate expanded as a slang term for 鈥forfeiting one鈥檚 parole鈥 due to a violation of its conditions. This of course would result in being sent back to prison.

In the 1990s, violate evolved as a Black slang term for 鈥減ersonally attacking someone,鈥 whether as an insult or assault. We find this violate in hip-hop lyrics, such as Twista鈥檚 1997 鈥淥verdose鈥: 鈥淰iolate him but can鈥檛 annihilate him.鈥

Juicy J dropped violate on his 2010 鈥淣iggaz Violate鈥 and Young M.A. on his 2017 鈥淥OOUUU,鈥 showing the spread of this slang sense.

How is violate used in real life?

Violate can be very formal. It鈥檚 a word often used in legal and political discourse. Many feel as if others have violated their rights or well-being, for instance.

Violate remains a term for sexual abuse or rape. If someone feels violated more generally, they mean they feel they’ve been extremely disrespected.

In slang, if you were to sling insults at someone鈥攐r violate them鈥攜ou’d be hitting them below the belt.

On a much less serious note, however, people can also violate things or people in more playful ways, especially regarding accepted codes of conduct. Bro code? Don鈥檛 violate it. How about a roommate agreement? That also should remain un-violated. If you’re in a healthy competition against someone, violating them can mean the same thing as dominating鈥搊r owningthem.

More examples of violate:

鈥淭wo complaints made against a physical therapist at South Peninsula Hospital to the state鈥檚 licensing board for therapists have been reviewed and closed. An unidentified board member found the therapist did not violate statues or regulations governing the practice.鈥
鈥擬egan Pacer, Peninsula Clarion, December 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term鈥檚 history, meaning, and usage.

How to use violate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for violate

/ (藞va瑟蓹藢le瑟t) /

verb (tr)
to break, disregard, or infringe (a law, agreement, etc)
to rape or otherwise sexually assault
to disturb rudely or improperly; break in upon
to treat irreverently or disrespectfully; outragehe violated a sanctuary
obsolete to mistreat physically
archaic violated or dishonoured

Derived forms of violate

Word Origin for violate

C15: from Latin viol膩re to do violence to, from v墨s strength
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012