violate

[ vahy-uh-leyt ]
/ ˈvaɪ əˌleɪt /

verb (used with object), vi·o·lat·ed, vi·o·lat·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.

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Origin of violate

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin violātus, past participle of violāre to treat with violence, violate, apparently derivative of violentus violent (taking viol- as base); see -ate1

OTHER WORDS FROM violate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

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–especially 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 “to treat with violence.”

The verb violate was first recorded in the 1400s for “sexually assaulting or raping someone” and soon after “breaking a rule or law.”

Zoom ahead to the 1960s, when violate expanded as a slang term for “forfeiting one’s parole” 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 “personally attacking someone,” whether as an insult or assault. We find this violate in hip-hop lyrics, such as Twista’s 1997 “Overdose”: “Violate him but can’t annihilate him.”

Juicy J dropped violate on his 2010 “Niggaz Violate” and Young M.A. on his 2017 “OOOUUU,” showing the spread of this slang sense.

How is violate used in real life?

Violate can be very formal. It’s 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—or violate them—you’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’t 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–or owningthem.

More examples of violate:

“Two complaints made against a physical therapist at South Peninsula Hospital to the state’s 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.”
—Megan Pacer, Peninsula Clarion, December 2018

Note

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’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for violate

British Dictionary definitions for violate

violate
/ (ˈvaɪəˌleɪt) /

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

adjective

archaic violated or dishonoured

Derived forms of violate

Word Origin for violate

C15: from Latin violāre to do violence to, from vīs strength
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